New River Gorge National Park fire fight enters day three

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 12:21 PM EST
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FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Crews from the West Virginia National Guard, firefighters from other National Parks and emergency crews from Fayette County continued working Friday to contain a fire initially discovered Wednesday afternoon.

Dave Bieri, the District Supervisor for New River Gorge National Park said in a media update Friday the fire is still estimated to be approximately 200 acres and 65 percent contained.

He said crews worked into the early morning hours on Friday and reported minimal fire activity.

“Good precipitation [Thursday] night and continued precipitation [Friday] should help minimize fire activity,” said Bieri.

The fire had first been reported around 3:00 p.m. Wednesday in Teays Landing, a private strip of land within the National Park.

Bieri told WSAZ Thursday Teays Landing is not in an area usually trafficked by tourists but the Wild Rock neighborhood of Fayette County had been at risk.

He also said the goal for fire crews had been to protect structures.

Friday, Bieri told reporters, brought positive developments.

“Evacuation orders have been lifted for all homes in the Wild Rock Area. All roads are open,” he said. “Homeowners returning to the area will still encounter emergency vehicles as firefighters will still be out monitoring the fire.”

Per Bieri, no firefighters had been injured or structures damaged.

“This is the time of year where we’d get fires, especially when you get drier, warmer weather in November, like we’ve had over the last week so it is our fire season.”

The park did not close during the fire bringing interest from visitors.

“It’s always tragic when you see woodland fires like this but then you see the combustible nature of these buildings and you understand the emergency of getting it stopped before it threatens access to these structures,” said Jerry Foster, who said he worked 25 years fighting fires in Teays Valley and now camps regularly near the gorge.

“These guys are doing an amazing job, it’s always tragic when you see something burning when it shouldn’t burn and it’s amazing to see the teamwork and how all these guys pull together.”

As of Friday afternoon, a cause of the fire had not been determined.