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Steep Valley Fire in NRG National Park and Preserve crosses 2,000 acres


GLEN JEAN — The forest fire burning within the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve has now topped 2,000 acres. National Park Service officials say the Steep Mountain Fire is now at 2,028 acres and is 70% contained.

However, the blaze continued to burn in a rugged and inaccessible part of the park on a steep and remote mountainside. The fire is situated in the area of War Ridge and Backus Mountain.

Park Service officials have no brought in a helicopter which is ferrying water from the nearby New River to the fire sight only a few hundred yards up the mountain and doing aerial water drops from the fire’s eastern edge.

There are 69 fire fighting personnel from other National Parks and National Forest units around the country in West Virginia helping to bring the fire under control. A private fire fighting team from Oregon has also arrived to help on the operation.

Officials say the drying trend and the weather patterns this week have not helped slow the spread of the fire and are helping the fire to reanimate in the area.

With the increase in fire activity, smoke will be present within the Gorge and could linger for a few days. The possibility of heavy smoke from the Steep Valley Fire may limit visibility to the motoring public. An air resource advisor is regularly monitoring smoke levels. With the potential of increased smoke in the area today, members of sensitive groups may experience health effects within 24 hours of exposure.