Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials reported that the wildfire near Chilhowee Lake is currently 90 percent contained. Incident Commander Erik Newell coordinated wildland firefighter response to the wildfire which is estimated to be approximately 40 acres in size and is located on the western boundary of the park along Highway 129 near mile marker 4.5.
Approximately 60 wildland firefighters assisted in fire suppression operations today, which was aided by between 0.25 and 0.5 inches of rainfall over the last 24 hours. Crews established a hand-dug firebreak line along the perimeter of the fire to help prevent fire growth into the backcountry of the park. Wildland firefighting operations included a hotshot crew, hand crews, and a Type 2 helicopter operation from the US Forest Service, along with a hand crew and Type 6 engine crew from the National Park Service (NPS) Appalachian Piedmont Coastal Fire Management Zone module.
Minimal fire behavior is currently observed, but there is some smoldering in the area. Crews are removing hazard trees along the Highway 129 road corridor that were damaged during the fire. Highway 129 is currently closed between Deals Gap, North Carolina and the Tabcat Boat Launch area in Tennessee, but is expected to open on Tuesday, November 8. Parson Branch Road remains closed.
The wildfire was originally started on Sunday, Nov. 7 after a motorcycle accident along Highway 129. The motorcycle lost control and collided into the roadside. Upon collision, the motorcycle was engulfed in flames which ignited the wildfire. The motorcycle operator was able to safely exit the accident site before the fire erupted.
No additional details are available at this time.
- National Park Service release