GATLINBURG (WATE) – More roadways and trails were closed in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to a wildfire.
The Chimney 2 Fire has closed Newfound Gap Road, Cherokee Orchard Road, Elkmont Road and many trails. According to the National Park Service, the fire has grown to 500 acres overnight due to extreme winds over 20 mph.
The National Park Service issued an air quality alert because the conditions are unhealthy in the area and nearby locations in Sevier County. The smoke has made conditions “exceed the human health standard.” The park says active children and adults, and people with respiratory and pulmonary disease are at risk. People are advised to spending a lot of time outdoors and to have limited exposure.
The fire is moving northeast and winds have caused the fire to spread to parts in the Chimney Tops and Bullhead Ridge areas. Crews say structures at LeConte Lodge or any place outside of the park’s boundaries (Gatlinburg, Pittman Center or Cosby facilities) are not in immediate danger.
Three helicopters dropped water in the area on Sunday. More firefighters were requested to help with the fire Monday.
The trails that are closed include: Chimney Tops, Road Prong, Huskey Gap, Sugarland Mountain, Rough Creek, Little River, Cucumber Gap, Jakes Creek, Miry Ridge, Goshen Prong, Old Sugarlands, Bullhead, Rainbow Falls, Alum Cave, Brushy Mountain, Trillium Gap, Baskins Creek, Porters Creek and Grapeyard Ridge. The campsites that are closed, include: 21, 23, 24, 26, 27, 30, 31, 32, Mt. Le Conte shelter and Mt. Collins shelter.
Investigators believe the fire was caused by a human. If anyone has information on the origin of the fire, call 865-436-1580.
Rain impacts on fires, drought
WATE 6 Storm Team Meteorologist Trent Magill said Monday night is East Tennessee’s first shot at rain. He said a more soaking rain is expected on Wednesday.
However, Trent Magill said the rains are not likely to end drought. Also, wind Monday will make the wildfires more difficult to fight.
“The problem with this rain is too much too fast,” said Magill. “We will get heavy rain, but it will not end the drought by any means and will probably not end the fire concerns either.”