Firefighters continue to monitor Pendleton County forest fire

UPPER TRACT, W.Va. — The potential for high winds were still a concern on Monday morning in Pendleton County where a fire burning in the Monongahela National Forest near Upper Tract, called the Dry Hollow Fire, was said to be about 60 percent contained.

“Since the rain moved in (this weekend), the fire has definitely dampened down a lot. It’s moving slowly. It is still burning and there is still smoke being produced from the fire,” said Kelly Bridges, public affairs officer for U.S. Forest Service, Monongahela National Forest.

She talked with MetroNews on Monday morning.

At that time, the size of the fire was estimated at 1,289 acres.

On Sunday and Monday, Bridges said fire lines were secured to the east, but the fire was continuing to extend out along its western flank. The North Fork Mountain Trail and Pretty Ridge Road, FRI 857, were being prepped for use as control lines there.

No buildings were being threatened, according to Bridges.

The fire was said to be burning with “low to moderate intensity creating conditions that are beneficial to wildlife, oak regeneration, and most significantly, Table Mountain pine.”

Table Mountain pine, a fire-adapted species that needs fire to aid in opening the cones for seed dispersal, is usually found on rocky ledges and ridgetops.

About 57 firefighters remained at the fire scene.

“They’re beefing up control lines, patrolling the area as much as they can safely and monitoring areas where we already have control lines put in place,” Bridges said.

“With the weather changing, it will help keep the fire dampened down so that’ll help a lot and we’ll have people out there monitoring it for several days before it’s declared out.”

On National Forest land, Smoke Hole Road, also known as County Road Two, and Forest Road 79 were closed.

In the fire areas, Bridges offered a warning.

“Whenever we have a wildfire on the forest, the area that’s been burned can be dangerous. There could be trees falling over, logs rolling down hills, that sort of thing so the public needs to stay out of the burned areas for the time being,” she said.

A cause for the fire that was first reported late last Wednesday night had not been determined as of Monday morning.

Bridges said an investigator was on scene Sunday and a determination could be made “soon.”

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