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Steep Valley Fire still burning in park


CHARLESTON — The Steep Valley Fire in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve has now grown to 1,946 acres and as of Monday morning is about 66% contained.

The fire is burning in the area of War Ridge and Backus Mountain. The fire didn’t grow much over the weekend due to higher humidity and some rain late last week, but since then things have started a drying trend and Park Service officials worry that could create more chances for fire to spread in the area.

As of Saturday, 61 firefighters were actively engaged on the fire. Monday, crews were reinforcing and maintaining fire lines as the warming and drying trend continues for next several days.

Firefighter safety remains a top priority. To date, there has been one minor injury to a firefighter. The firefighters are from other NPS and National Forest units around the nation.

The original closure order, which included War Ridge Campground and its access road has been expanded. The new closure order now includes all National Park Service lands bounded by the New River on the south and west to the town of Quinnimont, due east along State Highway 41 to the intersection of Backus-Red Spring Road, then continues directly south to the CSX railroad right of way at the river. This expansion of the closure order is being implemented out of an abundance of caution for firefighter safety.

The remainder of the park is open for normal hours of operation. Should fire activity and conditions change, park management will reassess for any needs to adjust park operations.