The Buck Shank Fire
While the fire season is just opening in the West, it's well under way in the East and Southeast, as evidenced by fires burning in Big Cypress National Preserve and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The fire in Great Smoky, nicknamed the "Buck Shank Fire," started Sunday afternoon in some heavy forest about a mile from the Abrams Creek Campground on the Tennessee side of the park. As of this morning there were 17 rangers on the fire, which covers about 50 acres.
The firefighters are working in steep terrain trying to establish fire lines to slow the spread of the blaze.
"Their hope is to hold the fire on three sides using Abrams Creek, a tributary named Mill Branch, and the Hatcher Mountain Trail and to construct hand-built fire lines across the fourth side," says park spokesman Bob Miller. "Nearly vertical terrain is expected to make the fire harder to contain because burning logs and snags are rolling down the slope below the main fire and could spread fire across the control lines, as well as posing a safety hazard to the firefighters.
"The area where the fire is currently burning has pockets of dead pines which were killed by Southern Pine Beetles where the fire burns hotter, and other areas where the fire is only creeping around in leaf litter, pine needles, and brush," says Miller. "It poses no threat to structures either within or outside the park."
While the park has not resorted to imposing any fire restrictions, managers are urging park visitors to use caution with campfires in the dry conditions that exist throughout Great Smoky.
The park’s Little Bottoms Trail and Hatcher Mountain Trail, as well as Backcountry Campsite No. 17, are currently closed. All other areas of the park, including the Abrams Creeks Campground, are operating as usual.