Due to fire spreading through the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains, the park has been forced to close multiple trails and campsites.
Officials first learned of the flames around 1 p.m. this afternoon when a fire near Cooper Creek was nearing the southern side of the park. And after rangers responded, they saw that a second fire was also burning near Stone Pile Gap close to the Thomas Divide.
At 6:30 p.m., The National Park Service released a statement saying, “At this time, two wind-driven wildfires that originated south of the park boundary are now active inside the park.” And in anticipation of the blazes spreading further into the area, officials closed down a handful of trails and campsites.
Park Officials Closed the Following Trails and Campsites
- Backcountry campsites: 46, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60
- Deep Creek and Thomas Divide trails from Deep Creek to Newfound Gap Road
- Pole Road Creek Trail
- Indian Creek Trail
- Stone Pile Gap Trail
- Deep Creek Horse Bypass Trail
- Juney Whank Falls Trail
- Deeplow Trail
- Fork Ridge Trail
- Sunkota Ridge Trail
- Martins Gap Trail
- Indian Creek Motor Nature Trail
- Mingus Creek Trail
- Newton Bald Trail
- Kanati Fork Trail
- Loop Trail
According to the NPS, The Bureau of Indian Affairs is heading efforts to extinguish the Cooper Creek Fire. And Bryson City Fire Department is working on the fire by Thompson Divide. State and county resources are also on the sites.
NPS has opened an incident command post at the Swain County East Elementary School.
No further information is available at this time.
Like the Great Smoky Mountains, Fires Are Also Spreading Through the Southwest
Firefighters in the Great Smoky Mountains aren’t the only ones battling fires this weekend. Three states in the Southwest are also working to put out flames that are spreading due to extreme drought conditions and dry winds.
Wildfires broke out on March 17th in Eastland County, TX, and quickly ignited 42,000 acres of grasslands. Because of parched grasses, the fires easily traveled into boarding states and prompted evacuations for 11 other Lone Star counties.
Houston meteorologist urges caution as wildfires burn across Texas https://t.co/Up0BKV1Qlj— Houston Chronicle (@HoustonChron) March 27, 2022
Of the states affected, Texas has seen the worst of the wildfires. Close to 180 blazes have consumed areas near Dallas, and the flames have burned over 108,000 acres.
Thanks to continuing droughts, most areas are still under a fire watch through the weekend. And officials are asking residents to be prepared for dangerous conditions.
“Several wildfires burning across #texas this afternoon,” Harris County meteorologist Jeff Lindner said on Twitter today. “Use extreme caution with any flame outdoors.”