Forest Fire Closes Portion of Skyline Drive, Hiking Trails in Shenandoah National Park

The Smith Run Fire was casting smoke across Shenandoah National Park on Sunday and forced partial closure of Skyline Drive. NPS photos.

A wildfire that started on private land has spread across some 2,000 acres in Shenandoah National Park, forcing closure of a stretch of Skyline Drive and hiking trails in the park.

Strong gusting winds initially stoked the fire, which started of some unknown cause on private land just west of the park Saturday. Once the flames reached the park, they quickly fed on hardwood leaf litter and downed trees, park officials said today.

The "Smith Run Fire" was burning near Jenkins Gap near milepost 12 on both sides of Skyline Drive, park spokeswoman Karen Beck-Herzog said this afternoon from her office. For public safety and to help fire crews, the scenic drive was closed to traffic between Front Royal, Virginia, and Route 211, she said.

The following trail closures were in effect until further notice: Mt. Marshall Trail from Skyline Drive to the intersection at the Bluff Trail; Appalachian Trail between Compton Gap and the Browntown Trail; Lands Run Gap Fire Road; and the Jenkins Gap Trail.

The rest of the park, including the Skyline Drive from Thornton Gap (Rt. 211) south to Rockfish Gap (Rt. 250), remained open.

No park structures were threatened by the flames, according to Ms. Beck-Herzog.

Roughly 70 firefighters -- a mix of National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and Virginia state and local personnel -- were on the fire lines today, and another 60 had been ordered, Ms. Beck-Herzog said, although she didn't know when they might arrive.

Comments

I saw this fire today and thought it was too high on the mountain to be a "controlled burn". Have seen 2 other road side brush fires this weekend between Charlottesville and Winchester VA. Have also been noticing how many old dead trees are out here. We also had high winds this weekend. Good luck to those out there trying to control this fire.

Had a friend who was in a group Saturday that was told to evacuate. He told me they awoke to an increasing fog of smoke and by the time they were leaving you could barely see or breathe.

Six of us were hiking the Big Run Loop and RockyTop Trail over the course of two days. We noticed the slight smell of smoke and thought perhaps the high winds were carrying the scent. Two hours later, the entire valley was hazey, making it difficult to breath. Needless to say, we high-tailed it out of there. As always, we registered beforehand so they knew we were in there. Thank goodness.

Talk about scary. I live on Lands Run Road and my childs bus stop is on Smith Run Road. We couldnt even see the fire and didn't have a clue what was going on since we live "under" it... to close to even see the smoke or the flames. But I will say was a really neat site to see at night. Roads were blocked off, crews were everywhere. To close for comfort!
Thank you to all the crews and people that helped control this!