PETERSBURG, W.Va. — Favorable weather has enabled the U.S. Forest Service to gain the upper hand on a fire in the Monongahela National Forest.
“We have it 40 percent contained right now,” said Incident Commander Kevin Grodi.
The fire covers 198 acres along the rugged North Fork Mountain 12 miles east of Petersburg. The blaze started October 7th, but since Sunday’s rainfall has stopped expanding. Fire fighters continue to work to build a fire line around the perimeter of the fire with concern it may still be smoldering.
“We’re looking to finish up some containment lines to make sure if it is still burning even after all the rain, and it does take off again for some reason they have a good place to stop the fire and not let it proceed onto somebody’s land,” he explained.
Mangers will assess the situation and may start sending some of the fire crews home by Friday. Some of the fire fighters have been on the fire for more than a week and many are from other parts of the United States.
“There is a concern there may still be some heat out there that is smoldering in the deep layers of decaying stuff on the forest floor,” Grodi explained. “We have ordered up what we call a ‘flare camera’ and we’re going to go up and do an ‘I-R’ flight and see if we can see any heat.”
The infrared camera will allow crews to pinpoint any hidden fire smoldering in the layer of decay on the ground and enable crews to get in close and extinguish the blaze before it manages to rekindle.
“Even if we do pair down to a smaller size of people,” Grodi explained. “We’ll still have enough stuff here to do fire attack and things like that. We’re not sending everybody home anytime soon.”