On Sunday, April 27, Rangers with the National Park Service announced that the Fern Creek Fire in the New River Gorge National River is 100 percent contained and 100 percent controlled. The fire began on Sunday, April 20. Firefighters spent the day Saturday examining the fire area, and they were unable to find any heat and/or smoke around the fire perimeter. Officials say there is still smoldering material within the interior of the burn but it poses no threat to containment lines. As an added precaution, the fire will continue to be monitored but will not be officially declared out until the affected area receives more rainfall. The Endless Wall Trail and associated climbing areas that were temporarily closed during the Fern Creek Fire to allow for public safety from the fire and hazards associated with emergency fire suppression activity are now open according to a news release from the National Park Service.
An enormous effort is underway in Fayette County to stop the spread of a massive brush fire that continues to consume more land in the New River Gorge.
National Park Service officials told 59News the fire, that began Sunday night, is now 75 percent contained, however it still covers 130 acres. Crews completed containment lines on the north and south sides of the fire and will ensure that remaining hot spots inside the perimeter are extinguished.
Our 59News reporter Jessie Gavin and videographer DJ McNamee got to suit up right alongside New River Gorge firefighters and they take us right to the fireline.
"I've been working here for almost 10 years and I've never seen a fire this size at New River Gorge," said New River Gorge Fire Management Officer Peggy Ainslie.
Afraid for their safety, over the past few days, fire officials have received calls from concerned homeowners.
"They are far enough away from the fire and we have enough natural barriers between them and the fire to where they aren't in any danger and we've sent folks over to them to talk with them about fire danger and to tell them that they can stay where they are," Ainslie told us.
Originally, to battle the fire in the Gorge, officials thought local manpower would be enough but soon, fire crews realized more help was needed. Firefighters flew in from Kentucky and even Illinois.
"The Midewin Hot Shots flew over and offered themselves. It's been excellent having them here and also a crew from the Cumberland Gap in Kentucky came and they've been assisting us while we get this mopped up," she said.
Ainslie looks ahead.
"It won't be controlled until all the hazards are mitigated like all this smoke that you see, they threaten the line every day. The hazard trees that we have out here, with the public coming in, we have to get them down to the ground," said Ainslie.
The Endless Wall trail is closed and will be until they can completely put the fire out, which Ainslie said could take up to another week.
Park officials told us the fire was caused by human activity and remains under investigation.