Wildfire caused by lightning continues to burn in Cohutta Wilderness Area

Authorities say the fire has burned 2939 acres, and is only about 10% contained. (Image: MGN)

Firefighting crews with the United States Forest Service (USFS) and others continue to try to contain a wildfire in the Cohutta Wilderness Area that was sparked by lightning on October 16th.

Authorities say the fire has burned 2939 acres, and is only about 10% contained.

On Thursday, the USFS says fire growth between Wednesday night and Thursday morning was minimal due to increased humidity and lower temperatures.

The northwestern fire perimeter has moved west of the Rough Ridge trail, dropping into Rough Creek, and continuing north of Crooked Dogwood Gap.

The USFS says the northeastern and eastern edges of the fire remained stable yesterday near Jacks River and continuing south toward Jones Settlement. The slopover that happened Tuesday south of Bee Knob Gap now has a containment line around it, but unburned fuel between the existing fire and the containment line may cause smoky conditions in the area to persist.

The southern edge remained mostly unchanged as of Thursday morning, including the spot fire area just east of the Three Forks Trailhead that occurred on Monday.

Crews will continue to strengthen containment lines from the trailhead along Yellow Lead toward Conasauga Creek.

The USFS says crews will continue to build and improve existing containment lines on all flanks of the fire. Helicopters, including a Chinook and a Black Hawk, are in place to help out on Thursday, specifically on the northwest flank.

A firing operation to burn out fuels and strengthen containment lines will take place south of Bee Knob Gap and north of Elliott Road if conditions allow for safe execution. Fire managers will continue to monitor the fire area nearest to Jones Settlement, and structure defense operations will remain as long as necessary. There are also crews ready to respond to any new incidents quickly and efficiently.

Trail Closures:

  • Cohutta Wilderness Trail Closures; Jacks River, Penitentiary Branch, Rough Ridge, Hickory Ridge, East Cowpen, Panther Creek, Rice Camp, Horseshoe Bend and Beech Bottom.
  • Forest Service Road 64 Closed At Potato Patch Intersection
  • Three Forks Trailhead, East Cowpen and Rough Ridge Trail Currently Closed

In addition, the USFS says a campfire restriction is now in place for all of the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests. The restriction prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire outside of developed recreation areas from now until December 31, 2016. That means that only campfires built within metal fire rings in developed campsites are allowed. Camp stoves are still permissible. The Forest Service reminds visitors that campfires should always be put out completely and cold to the touch before being left for any period of time.

Air quality:

Air quality conditions may change quickly, based on weather and fire activity. Sensitive groups including individuals with asthma, lung or heart disease, children, older adults, and pregnant women should take precautions to avoid exposure to smoke. If you feel as though you are having health effects from smoke, see your doctor or health professional as needed. Use caution when driving in or around smoky areas.

Depend on us to keep you posted on this developing situation.

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