Caroline MacGregor Published

Closure Order In Effect For Steep Valley Area Of New River Gorge 

Smoke can be seen covering a large area of a mountainsideNew River Gorge National Park and Preserve

The Steep Valley fire in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is now 81 percent contained. 

Park officials said the fire, near Glen Jean in Fayette County, has not moved beyond Thursday’s 2,206 acres. 

Steep Valley Fire Public Information Officer Tom Engberg said a closure order for the area will remain in effect until further notice for the War Ridge and Backus Mountain areas. 

“It’s going to be closed for the foreseeable future,” Engberg said Friday. “We know that it’s a popular hunting area in the zone where it is, but due to an abundance of caution for firefighter safety we’re going to keep it closed for now.”

Engberg said at the peak of the fire 72 crews from around the country were on hand to help to fight the fire.

“We had a couple of crews from Michigan, there was a crew from Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, New Jersey and we even had a crew from Oregon and private contractors as well,” Engberg said. “We had a pretty good response.”

Engberg said the area will continue to be monitored for remaining hotspots and park officials will reevaluate with fire management before a decision is made on reopening the area.

All National Park Service lands bounded by the New River on the south and west to the town of Quinnimont, due east along State Highway 41 to the intersection of Backus-Red Spring road, and directly south to the CSX railroad right of way at the river are included in the closure area. 

The rest of the park remains open for normal hours of operation.

As precipitation moves into the area, air quality levels are expected to improve in the coming days. 

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.