Thomas Divide Complex Fire Contained, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens Roads, Trails, Campsites

by Jon D. B.

After a week long battle, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) and local fire crews have contained the Thomas Divide Complex Fire, leading to wide reopenings in the North Carolina side of the park.

“Despite high winds overnight, both fires in the Thomas Divide Complex held containment lines thanks to excellent work by firefighters from multiple agencies. Both fires also received approximately 0.5 inch of rain overnight,” GRSM states in their final daily update for the Thomas Divide Complex Fire.

As a result, Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have reopened all roads, trails, and backcountry campsites following closures put in place due to the Thomas Divide Complex Fire. Additional wind and wildfire events would spark further closures throughout last week, too.

The following areas are now open in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

  • Backcountry campsites 46, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60
  • Deep Creek and Thomas Divide trails from Deep Creek to Newfound Gap Road
  • Pole Road Creek, Indian Creek, Stone Pile Gap, Deep Creek Horse Bypass
  • Juney Whank Falls, Deeplow, Fork Ridge, Sunkota Ridge, Martins Gap
  • Indian Creek Motor Nature, Mingus Creek, Newton Bald, Kanati Fork, and Loop trails
  • All park roads that are seasonally open this time of year

“Wet fuels and little observed fire activity led to the Stone Pile Fire being unstaffed today. On the Cooper Creek Fire, firefighters continued to mop up and cold trail around residences and structures, as well as collect GPS data to improve mapping,” GRSM continues.

But the threat of North Carolina’s complex fire is, thankfully, now contained. As a result, several fire team members are now assisting with fire suppression efforts in Sevier County due to the tragic Wears Valley Fire outside of the Tennessee section of the park.

Thomas Divide Complex Fire Winds Down

Great Smoky Mountains and National Park Service staff continues to monitor the North Carolina areas affected by the complex fire, however. Approximately 20 firefighters remain on site, monitoring the area for both residual flames and site repairs from fire suppression activity. 

In addition, electrical power to Elkmont, Metcalf, Cataloochee, and Smokemont areas is now back on. Park managers proactively had the power shut off to these areas on Wednesday, March 30, GRSM officials cite. Doing so would reduce fire risk across the park.

Park rangers responded to one powerline start on Thursday, March 31, from the line servicing the Look Rock telecommunications tower. An engine quickly responded from Blount County and was able to put the fire out before it spread.

Little to no fire activity is expected within the next several days inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundaries.