SMOKE HOLE, W.Va. (AP, WOWK) — Fire crews responded to a wildfire on Monongahela National Forest early this morning, two miles north of Upper Tract in extremely steep and rocky terrain.
The Dry Hollow Fire is currently estimated to be 530 acres and is on both privately-owned and federal lands. No structures have burned. Authorities originally estimated the wildfires had covered about 2,000 acres of forestland in Grant and Pendleton Counties.
The fire is burning on both sides of the South Branch of the Potomac River, including Dry Hollow and Cave Mountain near Eagle Rock.
Several volunteer fire departments responded to the fire along with the West Virginia Division of Forestry and the USDA Forest Service. Fire crews secured private structures by constructing a dozer line and burning out areas around homes and outbuildings. Crews continued to work throughout the day to assess fire contingency lines and access points. More resources will arrive Friday, including 30 additional firefighters and a helicopter.
The Forest Service is working to support the Upper Tract Volunteer Fire Department and the West Virginia Division of Forestry as they assess concerns for private property in the area.
Officials have evacuated hunters and are telling people to stay away from the area until further notice.
Last night’s damaging wind event knocked down several trees and caused the fire to spread throughout the day. Winds are predicted to diminish substantially overnight. Tomorrow’s winds are predicted to be light and variable, although it will be drier.
Smoke Hole Road (County Route 2) is closed from Upper Tract to Shreve’s Country Store, and one privately-owned campground was evacuated this morning. Smoke may be visible from roads in the area. If you encounter smoke on the highway, slow down, turn on your vehicle’s lights, and drive appropriately for the conditions. The cause of the Dry Hollow Fire is under investigation.
The Monongahela National Forest will continue to give updates regarding the wildfire at InciWeb.