PETERSBURG, W.Va. — A fire in Grant County has grown to 100 acres in the Monongahela National Forest. The fire has been slowly smoldering since Monday and has expanded from the top of the mountain along the North Fork Trail down each side of the ridge.
“It’s really inaccessible,” said Kevin Grodi, Incident Commander of the U.S. Forest Service. “It’s a two and a half mile hike in. Our guys are prepared for that.”
One fire crew spent Friday night on the fire line and another may spend the night Saturday. Grodi said firefighters are evaluating the need for a crew for Sunday night with the forecast calling for rain. The remnants of Hurricane Nate are due to arrive in West Virginia and deliver some much needed moisture. However, the amount to hit the fire site is unknown.
“We’re hoping we get something out of it. Our fire-weather forecast shows some moisture wise something is going to happen that will put an impact on the fires,” said Grodi.
The fire started on the very top of the ridge and has burned down each side. The eastern side is easier to access with a more gentle slopes. The western side, is an entirely different matter. There is loose rock and the terrain is extremely steep where the fire is moving.
“A lot of trees in there don’t have a root system established and you get fire into them and they start falling,” Grodi explained. “The other day we listened to a tree fall and we could hear it roll down the hill for almost a minute.”
Since no private property or structures are threatened by the fire, crews have been reluctant to put personnel on the west slope as the fire burns in the difficult terrain.
As a precaution the U.S. Forest Service has closed the area of the national forest along the North Fork, Landis, and Redman Trails until the fire is under control. Officials say it’s about 20 percent contained so far.