The national park service released management of the 2 wildfires still burning in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to an Interagency Incident Management Team. This team specializes in directing and providing logistical support to large incidents, especially fires.
Currently the Laurel Falls fire which was started by an illegal campfire has affected more than 250 acres and has shut down the extremely popular Laurel Falls hiking trail is only 25% contained despite days of intense firefighting efforts by almost 90 firefighters with air support. At this time the rare old growth forest behind Laurel Falls are not in danger.
Plenty of fuel for this wildfire was and still is available as a prescribed burn has not been done in this area for a very long time. This section of the park really did need the natural cleaning of fire to help increase the biodiversity. Firefighters are burning areas in front of the wildfire right now to reduce its fuel.
Expect the Laurel Falls hiking trail to be closed for some time even after the fire is out to be sure there are no hot spots are hanging trees that could fall onto visitors.
Since fire personnel are tied up fighting this fire it will take days for the Roundtop Trail to be reopened because crews need to examine the trail and surrounding area before it can be deemed safe.
The Stony Ridge Wildfire in the Great Smoky Mountains national park was started by a downed power line and has already scorched at least 1,200 acres in the Cherokee North Carolina area and has shut down the northern most section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between US 19 - Soco Road and US 441 Newfound Gap Road in the Great Smoky Mountains national park. US 441 Newfound Gap Road is not impacted at all other than occasional smoke.
More than 150 firefighters are working on the Stony Ridge Wildfire with the use of air support and at this time it is halfway contained. The western perimeter at this time is secured and crews are battling to secure the eastern perimeter by the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The cool damp weather from last night and now today has been some help and we can only hope that we get more rain though the forecasts are saying there is only a 30% chance of rain today.