Steep Valley Fire cause under investigation

Steep Valley Fire update
Steep Valley Fire update(New River Gorge National Park and Reserve)
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 11:12 AM EST
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GLEN JEAN, W.Va. (WVVA) - The Steep Valley Fire is currently 2,182 acres with containment up to 78 percent as of Tuesday. The fire does continue to burn in the remote, steep, and rugged part of inaccessible terrain in the War Ridge and Backus Mountain areas.

According to the New River Gorge National Park and Reserve, the cause of the fire is now under investigation.

NRGNPP said that fire activity increased Tuesday which produced pocket of smoke in the fire area; however, upon reaching established containment lines, activity was significantly reduced. Pockets of smoke could linger for days, but with minimal fire activity, air quality levels are forecast to be in the good and moderate range.

Creew will be improving existing fire lines as the fire is expected to remain minimally active today. Tuesday, firefighters made tactical decisions that included strategic firing to burn out pockets of fuel to help strengthen lines during suppression efforts.

NRGNPP said that firefighter safety remains the number one priority with only one minor injury to a firefighter to date.

The NRGNPP reminds park visitors that a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is currently in effect for 5,000 feet above ground level and a 5-mile radius around the fire area. Any drone incursions into the Steep Valley Fire TFR area are a violation of FAA regulations.

Additionally, all aircraft supporting firefighter operations would temporarily be grounded as drones endanger air crews that are flying. This interruption in firefighting support could put firefighters at extreme risk and could result in grave consequences for those actively engaged in fire suppression.

As a reminder, launching, landing, or operating a drone within National Park Service lands is strictly forbidden.

A closure order remains in place for 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. The remainder of the park is open for normal hours of operation. Should conditions change, park management will reassess for any needs to adjust park operations.