“As a precautionary measure we have closed Chilhowee Recreation Area and trails in that area,” said Andy Gaston, acting Ocoee District ranger. “Our latest contingency firelines are located approximately two miles south of the recreation area.”
The fire has consumed approximately 200 acres and is expected to grow considerably larger before it is extinguished.
Some 80 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee State Parks Department are battling the blaze.
Firefighters are being aided by three water-dropping helicopters and two bulldozers. According to a press release by the CNF, prolonged hot and dry conditions, combined with extremely steep and rugged terrain, have made constructing and holding containment lines difficult. At the present, there is no estimate of when the fire will be fully contained.
“We will reopen the area as soon as possible,” Gaston said. “An alternative for mountain biking and hiking is the trail system at the Ocoee Whitewater Center off Highway 64 in the Ocoee River Gorge. There are over 30 miles open for use there.”
Motorists are asked to be mindful of smoke and fire equipment along roads in the vicinity.
For additional information call 423-338-3300 or 423-476-9729.