Updated on Friday, October 6 at 3:56 p.m.
A wildfire that began Monday in Grant County has now grown and continues to spread.
The North Fire in the Monongahela National Forest is now estimated at more than 50 acres. Fire crews first responded to the wildfire Monday afternoon in a remote area of Grant County, just 12 miles west of Petersburg.
As of Thursday, officials have upgraded the fire to a ‘Type 3’ fire because of its extended duration and complexity. 25 firefighters have now been assigned to the scene. On Friday, additional crew members were dispatched.
The North Fork Mountain Trail has now been closed to all public entry from the Landis Trail to the Redman Run Trail.
District Ranger Troy Waskey said in a news release he and his team are working closely with Grant County 911, Petersburg Volunteer Fire Department, and other local agencies to contain the fire.
The cause is still undetermined.
In September, the USDA reported 2017 is already the most expensive fiscal year on record for combating wildfires, exceeding $2 billion.
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 calls for cuts to the U.S. Forest Service’s wildfire fighting initiative by $300 million.
Fire crews responded to a wildfire Monday afternoon in a remote area of Grant County. At this time, no structures are threatened.
The five-acre North Fire is burning in rugged terrain near North Fork Mountain Trail, approximately 12 miles west of Petersburg on the Monongahela National Forest.
Work continued Tuesday to contain that fire. 15 firefighters are conducting initial fire operations, and visitors are encouraged to avoid Redman Run Trail and portions of the North Fork Mountain Trail.
The ground fire is burning primarily in what’s called the 'duff layer,' which is a buildup of years of organic material from leaves, pine needles, and woody debris.
The USDA Forest Service says the cause of the North Fire is still under investigation.
Officials say those recreating in the Monongahela National Forest this fall should use caution. The National Weather Service says much of West Virginia has been abnormally dry.