Great Smoky Mountain National Park restricts campfires in backcountry

(AP)
(AP)

GATLINBURG (WATE) – The Great Smoky Mountain National Park announced a temporary ban on campfires in the park’s backcountry until further notice.

The park said they made the decision to issue a burn ban because of extremely dry weather conditions and the amount of leaves on the ground. Fires at developed areas must be confined to designated fire rings and grills.

“With the current drought conditions, it is imperative that we reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires during this period of extreme fire danger,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The park has not banned backcountry campfires since 2007, but these unusually dry conditions warrant the restriction.”

Related: East Tennessee fires cause thick haze

Visitors are asked to also take precautions to help reduce the risk of wildfires. That includes extinguishing frontcountry fires by mixing water with embers in fire rings and grills. Backpacking stoves are still permitted, according to the park.

The park said that backpackers should be aware that the situation affects the availability o;f water at springs at backcountry campsites and shelters throughout the park. At some locations where there is a running spring, the park said it can take more than five minutes to fill a quart-sized bottle

The following backcountry campsites are currently known to be without water: 5, 6, 16, 26, 113, Mollies Ridge Shelter, Russell Field Shelter, Spence Field Shelter, Silers Bald Shelter, Double Spring Gap Shelter, and Pecks Corner Shelter. Other campsites may be without water as the drought conditions continue.

Backpackers are encouraged to carefully consider their itinerary and carry extra water for those sites that are not located along major water sources.

For more information, visit the park’s website.

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