Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): Despite the half-inch of rain Friday, there are still smoke plumes emanating from the Steep Valley Fire.
Tom Enberg, Information Officer for the National Park Service said, “As of Friday, we were at 30% containment. On Friday, there was little fire activity because of the rain that the fire did receive for the area; very little activity that firefighters have been basically maintaining. So that’s pretty much where they’re at today. They’re probably improving and constructing new fire line, but there is minimal fire activity at this point, but it is smoldering.”
Enberg said, “I want to emphasize it’s not out. It’s just that the fire is smoldering and there’s a chance that that we could see a reanimation of the fire in the next few days because of the warming trend that’s coming into the area. And just to reiterate, a smoldering fire means that you won’t see flames shooting out of the air and you won’t see too much smoke.”
So, closer to the ground surface, there is still a lot of heat energy contained and very small little fires going on. It’s not that evident as it was earlier in the week. You’re not going to see a lot of activity per se. You’re not going to see actual flame lengths coming out for the ground or the fire.
So, if something does happen where we do get that perfect temperature, combination weather, precipitation, relative humidity that could reanimate, we could start seeing some flame lengths.
Chief Meteorologist Chad Merrill asked, “At what point during the life of this particular fire would it be declared over or were the Forest Service and the Park Service actually leave the site around where the fire has been burning?
Enberg said, “Pretty much when there’s no chance that that fire would be able to escape or if it’s actually cold. You put your hand down there and make sure that the ground within the contained fire line is cold, that there’s nothing active and nothing hot, and that the containment lines that were constructed around the fire will hold. We have to be completely sure that that fire is not going to reanimate in any shape or form, and that the containment line that was constructed all around the fire in those areas will hold in case something does happen again.”
Forecaster Braden Petry asked, “Can you briefly explain what exactly a fire line is?” Enberg said, “Yep. Fire line is basically where the fire is. So up where the firefighters are, they’re up on that quote unquote fire line, actively engaged in fighting the fire.”
One thing that we do want to reiterate to our viewing audience is that the entire park is not closed because of this ongoing brush fire. It’s Backus Mountain and War Ridge Campgrounds that are closed. Those are the only areas that are closed right now just because of the fire activity in the active firefighting that’s going on the entire park. The rest of the entire park remains open for normal hours of operation. So unless you hear something or see something from the National Park Service directly, that’s that’s the status of the park.
If you have any questions, go here and you’ll see the operations operational hours and any kind of closures that are listed as well.