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