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Final Fire Report Issued As 85% Containment Reached For Shenandoah Neighbor Mountain Fire

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Current Fire Map

The Neighbor Mountain Fire boundary as reported earlier. This graphic shows fascinating detail of how the fire grew. A firefighter at the blaze. Both images by the National Park Service.

The final update on the Shenandoah National Park Neighbor Mountain Fire has been issued as containment reaches 85% and “many firefighters head home,” said Linda Friar, the fire's incident public information officer.

Two crews remain to assist the Park with the fire. Friar’s release said, “Later today the Southern Area Red Team will return command of the fire to the National Park Service at Shenandoah National Park who will manage the fire with a Type 3 incident management team.” A helicopter will survey the fire using infrared to identify hot spots for the remaining firefighters.

Friar said that all the firefighters “very much appreciate the support they have received from people in and around Luray, Page County and nearby communities.”

Still closed are the Knob Mountain Cutoff, Knob Mountain, Neighbor Mountain, and Jeremys Run trails.

The Byrd's Nest #4 Shelter, and the section of the Appalachian Trail between Elkwallow and Beahms Gap—both of which had been closed due to the Neighbor Mountain Fire—reopened last Friday at noon.

As the fire, and the costly efforts to put it out, come to an end, it offers a renewed opportunity to consider supporting the good work of the Shenandoah National Park Trust, one of the many essential "friends groups" helping parks around the country.

On Friday July 6th, [color=black]Friar said, "c[/color][color=black]rews will conduct mop up operations along the entire containment line. Rehabilitation of dozer lines, to reduce erosion potential, continues.[/color]"

As a caveat to that, Friar added that, "[color=black]t[/color][color=black]he fire will continue to burn in some interior areas until significant precipitation is received over the fire area[/color]." Today she said thunderstorms were in the forecast.

In an earlier release, Friar explained that "Burnout Operations" are "highly planned events that ... use fire to eliminate burnable fuels between the main fire and the firelines. They are conducted in very strategic locations and are used only when current and predicted conditions are within acceptable limits. The procedure is extremely effective and used often to help contain wildland fires."

No structures are threatened and trail closures remain in place. The trails that are closed remain those put off limits two days ago and covered in an earlier Traveler article with additional photos. They are the Appalachian Trail between Elkwallow and Beahms Gap, as well as the Knob Mountain Cutoff, Knob Mountain, Neighbor Mountain, and Jeremys Run trails. The closure also includes the Byrd’s Nest #4 Shelter.

In addition to the fire, a severe thunderstorm last Friday night resulted in closures of the Skyline Drive in the north and south districts, but the latest report says the Drive continues completely open with park amenities functioning normally.

Shenandoah reports that the Southern Area Red Team, a Type 2 incident management team, has established a unified command with the Virginia Dept. of Forestry to manage the fire. Resources assigned to the fire include personnel from 25 states amd agencies including the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Department of Forestry, and Mississippi Forestry Commission.

For ongoing information follow the park’s twitter and facebook sites – http://www.facebook.com/shenandoahnps and http://twitter.com/ShenandoahNPS.

Fire details can also be found on an "Incident" Website, then search Neighbor Mountain Fire.

Comments

The town of Luray, and all it's attractions are open. If you are coming into town from DC by route 211, you will see the fire to the North as you come into the valley. You can see nature doing it's thing and you can give thanks to those brave souls who are working in this heat to keep it in check. There is no smoke in the town and the visit is quite enjoyable. From the Caverns you can see the smoke from the Neighbor Mountain fire in the far distance but it has no impact on the tourist trade at all. Once again, thanks to those who are working the fire and protecting life and property.


Anon,

There is a fire onthe national forest, some 15 miles north of the story book trail.

The fire in the national park is 15 miles east of your intended hike.

Smoke conditions are fine for hiking unless you are very near the fire, which your hike is not.

Enjoy your hike. But bring lots of water. Temps and humidity will be brutal


Sorry, we will be hiking near the Storybook Trail in Luray (near the mountain pass to I-81). It appears to be on the other side of the valley from all the aforementioned "action." Thanks for the updates!


We were on the Skyline Drive on Sunday and observed helicopters dropping water/chemicals on the fire.


Anonymous, not sure how to answer your question. GW National Forest is huge, sprawls west of Shenandoah along Massanutten Mountain then beyond the Shenandoah Valley to the border of West Viginia; south from there and south of the park too along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unless you're going to be very close to Luray, I'd say you're probably OK...


Has anyone been hiking in the GW forest? I was planning an excursion to the area but if it's very smokey/has lots of haze I may push my plans back. Thanks!


Fires are a natural part of nature. Really.


There's not particularly strong evidence that fixed-wing air tankers do much good in fighting wildland fires. Cynics think that they're more for show (spectacular video of planes droopping pink stuff).

Beyond that, flying aircraft through swirling air above and adjacent to fires is quite risky. Not only did 2 pilots die fighting the Utah fire in early June, but a C-130 crashed yesterday fighting the White Draw fire in South Dakota.

From the natural resources science perspective, there is pretty widespread agreement that the old FS "out by the next morning" fire suppression is bad for the forests & grasslands, and counter-productive in the long run because it increases fuel loads & the intensity of th eventual fire. [Of course, Aldo Leopold figured that out when he worked for FS and changed his attitude toward forest fires back in the 1930s.]


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