PHOTOS: Thomas Divide Complex Fire Grows to 950 Acres, 40% Contained

by Jon D. B.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) continues to battle the Thomas Divide Complex Fire in North Carolina with 950 acres now affected.

Late Monday, March 28, GRSM fire officials would report the Thomas Divide Complex Fire at 40% containment. Currently, park firefighters and multiple North Carolina agencies continue fire suppression efforts to extinguish the blaze.

The complex is comprised of two wildfires, which include the Stone Pile Fie and the Copper Creek Fire. As a whole, the Thomas Divide Complex Fire now affects at least 950 acres east of Bryson City, NC.

As of Tuesday morning, 39% of the wildfire is inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park boundaries. The remaining 61% of the complex burns on Swain County, NC private property. Thankfully, no loss of life or permanent structures has been reported.

Smoke rises from the Thomas Divide Complex Fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina. (Photo credit: GRSM, NPS press release)

“The Unified Command Center continues to coordinate the suppression efforts with approximately 70 personnel from the National Park Service, North Carolina Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bryson City Fire Department, Swain County Emergency Services, and Jackson County Emergency Management,” reports GRSM via press release late Monday.

Fueled By Severe Winds, Thomas Divide Complex Fire Rages On

Fire crews will continue suppression efforts Tuesday onward from the ground. Air suppression efforts, however, have been greatly impacted by wind speeds. This week will only see further air efforts if wind speeds allow. 

Thankfully, Monday’s wind speeds would decrease enough to allow air support efforts to resume. All air efforts shut down Sunday due to excessive wind speeds.

Thomas Divide Complex Fire air suppression efforts resume on Monday, March 28, after severe winds halted air efforts over the weekend. (Photo credit: GRSM, NPS press release)

As a result of the spreading wildfire, the following areas remain closed in GRSM:

  • 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
  • Toms Branch Road near Deep Creek
  • The Deep Creek Campground and Picnic Area will not open for the season until April 15.

The areas above would first close late Saturday, March 26, as park fire crews found the first signs of wildfire. Each remains off limits to the public through Tuesday, March 29.

For a full map of GRSM closures, please see our MAP: These Great Smoky Mountains National Park Trails and Campsites Remain Closed Due to Thomas Divide Complex Fire next.

For a full timeline of the complex, please see our Wildfire Timeline: Thomas Divide Complex Fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park next.