Square dance calling — the spoken instructions said over the music — makes participation easy. But there are other aspects — like the prevalence of gendered language such as “ladies and gents” — that can make square dancing an unwelcoming or confusing space. One group of friends in the Appalachian square dance scene are taking action to make the tradition more welcoming for all participants.Continue Reading Take Me to More News
Update: Friday, November 22 at 10:40 a.m.
The Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County, W.Va. that was struck by a forest fire nearly two weeks ago will reopen to the public on Sunday now that the fire is fully contained.
A news release says the public will be free to enter the Monongahela National Forest area where the fire was beginning Sunday morning, Nov. 24, 2013.
The fire burned 1,611 acres.
The release says visitors to the area should be aware that there are still ongoing monitoring and fire patrol efforts and that while the majority of firefighters have gone home, several crews, engines, and a helicopter continue to work in the area.
Update: Sunday, November 17, 2013 at 10 a.m.
The forest fire at the Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County has grown to about 1,600 acres but firefighters are also finding more success in fighting it. According to a news release the fire is 50 percent contained.
The fire started a week ago on private land adjacent to the Monongahela National Forest 11 miles southwest of Petersburg, W.Va. and three miles northeast Seneca Rocks. The cause is under investigation.
The news release says about 190 firefighters and support staff, including four crews, two modules, six engines, two bulldozers, and one helicopter are assisting with the fire.
The release says: Crews had a safe, productive day yesterday. The south and east flanks are being mopped up and patrolled. Some minimal fire activity occurred along the crest of North Fork Mountain along the northwest section of the fire.
Plans for today call for direct attack on any remaining active fire. In areas where the fire is not actively burning, crews are strengthening the completed line.
A cold front moving into the area in late afternoon may bring a chance of thunderstorms with gusty winds and additional rain.
Update: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 9 a.m.
The U.S Forest Service and West Virginia Division of Forestry report the fire in the Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County, W.Va. is about 30 percent contained.
The fire is burning on about 1,400 acres of national forest land and adjacent private property 11 miles southwest of Petersburg and three miles northeast of Seneca Rocks.
Here is the latest information from a news release issued this morning:
Approximately 150 firefighters and support staff, including four crews, one module, five engines, two bulldozers, and a helicopter are assisting with the Smoke Hole Fire.
Another safe and challenging day yesterday. Crews had a great day, improving containment and maintaining their safety record. The south end is being mopped up and patrolled, east side is cooling down nicely. Today, crews can expect continued low fuel moisture and warm weather.
Firefighters will be fighting directly and aggressively on all fronts, particularly on the northern edge of the fire.
The following areas are closed under an emergency order: Redman Run Trail (Trail #507) from the North Fork Mountain Trail (Trail #501) to Smoke Hole Road (Grant County Road 23). National Forest System Lands (NFS) in Pendleton County between Highway 28/55, Pendleton County Road 23 to Eagle Rock. NFS lands north of Dry Hollow Creek. At the end of Dry Hollow Creek to the northeast boundary of Seneca Rocks Area. NFS lands and Seneca Rocks Area boundary to the northwest boundary of NFS lands and Seneca Rocks on the Cheat/Potomac Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest.
Update: Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 11 a.m.
Firefighters continue battling a 1,400 acre forest fire in the Smoke Hole area of Pendleton County.
A news release says: Wednesday was a very productive day, with good progress made along the southeastern edge of the fire.
Solid progress was made establishing an indirect fire line around the western and northern edges of the fire. This is a long-duration fire and a containment date is not predicted at this time.
There will be more than 150 people on location at the fire today with resources from approximately 18 states.
Crews will construct and improve new lines as well as patrol and secure existing lines. A helicopter is being used for reconnaissance and water drops.
Wednesday there was minimal activity with little smoke visible. Today’s forecast is for the high 50s, significantly warmer than the past few days.
The warmer weather and unseasonably low humidity can produce a change in fire behavior. The surrounding area may see more smoke today due to winds and continuing fire suppression activities.
Anywhere from two inch to 20 foot flames are possible, depending on the fuel types and weather conditions.
Today’s objectives are to provide for firefighter and public safety, provide protection to communities within the fire area, and to protect natural and cultural resources to the extent possible.
Update: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 8:30 p.m.
Access to the Monongahela National Forest in the area of the Smoke Hole fire is now restricted.
A press release by the U.S. Forest Service and West Virginia Division of Forestry says an emergency closure order restricting access took effect Wednesday.
“This action is being taken to provide for public and firefighter safety while we work to protect National Forest property and resources and private structures.” Troy Waskey, District Ranger of the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District, said.
The closure order will remain in effect for the next 120 days unless otherwise rescinded by the Forest Supervisor.
Everyone is prohibited from entering national forest land described below unless specifically authorized.
- Redman Run Trail (Trail #507) from the North Fork Mountain Trail (Trail #501) to Smoke Hole Road (Grant County Road 23).
- National Forest System Lands (NFS) in Pendleton County between Highway 28/55, Pendleton County Road 23 to Eagle Rock.
- NFS lands north to Dry Hollow Creek.
- At the end of Dry Hollow Creek to the northeast boundary of Seneca Rocks Area.
- NFS lands and Seneca Rocks Area boundary to the northwest boundary of NFS lands and Seneca Rocks on the Cheat/Potomac Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest.
Violations area punishable by a fine of up to $500 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization. Violators also face a prison sentence of not more than six months.
Update: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 11 a.m.
The wildfire burning in the Smoke Hole area of the Monongahela National Forest in Pendleton County, W.Va. has spread and now at least 1,400 acres is burning on National Forest and nearby private land.
A news release from the West Virginia Division of Forestry and the U.S. Forest Service says the fire is about 20 percent contained.
The release says firefighters made good progress Tuesday suppressing it on the southern end.
“This is an unusual fire,” Operations Chief Pete Irvine said this morning. “There was fire burning actively against the wind in a snowstorm.”
The fire started Sunday about 12:30 p.m. Robert Beanblossom, public information officer for the incident, said the initial attack occurred later that afternoon and Monday crews were able to work on the south perimeter of the fire and “made real substantial progress” on the south end.
Beanblossoom said no structures were threatened as of Tuesday afternoon but there are people monitoring to make sure it doesn’t spread in a direction that threatens structures.
The fire is burning in a predominately oak and hickory forest. The North Fork Mountain Trail was closed Tuesday from its intersection with the Redmond Run Trail south to its terminus at U.S. Rte. 33.
Forest Rd. 79 is also closed to the public. North Fork Mountain Trail is closed at the intersection with the Landis Trail (#502) and south until US Route 33. An area wide emergency closure order will be in place on Wednesday.
The area of Pendleton County affected by the fire didn’t receive any snowfall Tuesday morning and Beanblossom said there were winds, with gusts up to 25 mph, which hampered firefighting efforts. But he said there was also good cloud cover and high relative humidity and that helps firefighters.
About 80 personnel were fighting the fire Tuesday with units from the Franklin, Seneca Rocks, Upper Tract and Petersburg fire departments as well as units from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
Peter Fischer, Monongahela National Forest fire management officer, said in a news release this is the largest wildfire in the Forest since the 1940’s or 1950’s. The cause is under investigation.
More information is available at the Cheat-Potomac Ranger Station, 304-257-4488 extension 28.