UPDATE: Despite rain the wildfire near Smoke Hole continues to burn
UPDATE: 12/01/19 10:21 PM
A wildfire in the Smoke Hole area of Grant and Pendleton counties, which has been burning since Thursday, received approximately one-quarter inch of rain in the past 24 hours. Rainfall has temporarily stalled fire spread, though it is still burning and producing smoke.
Firefighters continue to work on preparing the North Fork Mountain Trail as a control line for fire spread to the west. Crews are preparing Pretty Ridge Road and FR 857 as contingency lines, should the fire advance to the south. They are also monitoring control lines that were put in place Friday on the east side of the fire.
As moisture is now moving out of the area, significant winds are forecasted to move into the region Monday. Fire officials will be closely monitoring the onset of changing weather conditions and firefighters will remain on scene at least through the next several days.
Monongahela National Forest continues to coordinate with and support the Upper Tract Fire Department and West Virginia Division of Forestry as they monitor the needs of private landowners affected by the fire.
Burned areas on the National Forest are closed to the public, along with Smoke Hole Road and Forest Road 79. Visitors to nearby National Forest lands, especially hunters, should exercise caution while in the area.
UPDATE: 11/29/19 11:45 P.M.
Several dozen firefighters remained on the scene of a large wildfire in northeastern West Virginia Friday morning, authorities said.
The fire in the Smoke Hole area of Grant and Pendleton counties began early Thursday morning and reportedly has burned more than 530 acres. It also prompted the evacuation of hunters taking part in the first week of deer gun season in the Mountain State.
Early Friday, more than 50 firefighters and at least four engines remained in the area of the Monongahela National Forest.
In a news release, the U.S. Forest Service said conditions improved Friday morning as the wind died down, but the edge of the fire remained out of control, and crews were still dealing with debris and downed trees.
Rain is expected to move into the area Saturday afternoon.
In the meantime, The Forest Service said personnel are engaging the fire on the west side by building a fire line to protect buildings. Crews continue to scout the Cave Mountain area on the east side and are considering a controlled burn to buffer private land between Jake Hill Road and the national forest boundary.
The Forest Services is asking people to avoid Smoke Hole Road, which has been closed to allow emergency vehicles access to the fire.
Firefighters from West Virginia, Kentucky, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin are working on the fire, along with qualified Job Corps students.
West Virginia Natural Resources Police responded to active wildfires in the Smoke Hole area of Grant and Pendleton Counties Thursday.
According to NRP's Facebook page, officers have been on the scene since early Thursday morning.
Around 2,000 acres of forest land have been burnt, according to NRP. Hunters were evacuated early morning.
NRP is advising hunters to stay out of the area until further notice.
Keep checking WTAP for any updates.