Virginia wildfires burn 9,000+ acres closes some trails inside national parks

Posted at 2:38 PM, Nov 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-19 08:08:44-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thursday another wildfire sparked in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia prompting the park to close some trails and divert resources to fighting it.

The new fire is in the Rockfish/Afton area of the park and officials say that a crew from the Quaker Run Fire has been diverted to assist in the fight. The new fire has been dubbed the Royal Orchard Fire. Crews estimate that it is about 20 acres in size currently.

"Significant progress was made building fire lines around the Royal Orchard Fire last night. The fire is broken down into two Divisions with the DOF on one flank and the NPS resources on the other flank," Shenandoah National Park shared on Facebook.

The Quaker Run Fire officials say is now 100% contained having burned 3,937 acres so far. The fire started on October 24th and is still under investigation as to what caused it.

"Today, crews assigned to the Quaker Run Fire will continue to patrol and repair trails, roads and other areas as needed. Clouds and moderate humidity are expected. This will reduce the potential for reburn or escape. The fire continues to burn well inside containment lines in small, localized areas," the National Park Service explained.

Here is what is closed due to the Quaker Run Fire:

  • Wilhite Wagon Trail
  • Graves Mill Trail
  • Mill Prong Trail
  • Mill Prong Horse Trail
  • Stony Mountain Trail
  • Fork Mountain Trail
  • Laurel Prong from Cat Knob intersection
  • Upper Dark Hollow Trail (Does not impact access to the falls)
  • The Lower Rapidan Fire Road (Beyond the portion open to bicycles)

Down in Southwestern Virginia the Matts Creek Fire continues to burn being only 2% contained according to George Washington & Jefferson National Forest officials. The blaze began Sunday about 5 miles southeast of Glasgow, Virginia. So far 5,148 acres have been burned.

Closures due to the Matts Creek Fire are as follows:

  • Petites Gap Road is closed to all public use between the Belfast Trailhead and the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed from milepost 66.3, near US Highway 501, to milepost 85.9, at VA Route 43 until further notice. Park visitors should plan for a detour from the north or south using adjacent routes and Interstate 81. 
  • Appalachian Trail from James River Foot Bridge to Petites Gap Road
  • James River Foot Bridge Parking Lot
  • Matts Creek Trail
  • Piney Ridge Trail
  • Balcony Falls Trail
  • Gunther Ridge Trail
  • Belfast Trail
  • Sulphur Springs Trail
  • Glenwood Horse Trail from the Blue Ridge Park

The National Park Service also warns that parts of Virginia could see moderate air quality due to smoke from the fires. You can find more information on how the air is currently here.

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