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Shenandoah National Park will begin fire restrictions on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 at 8:00 a.m. Due to exceptionally dry conditions and the potential for extreme fire behavior, the restrictions listed below will be in effect until the park receives sufficient precipitation.
- All wood, charcoal, coal or solid fuel open air fires will be prohibited throughout the park. This includes campgrounds, picnic areas and shelters. The use of liquid or gas-fueled portable stoves in the backcountry will also be prohibited. Wood, charcoal, coal or solid fuel fires are already prohibited in the backcountry.
- Smoking will be permitted only inside vehicles, established parking areas, in developed campgrounds, and in designated smoking areas inside buildings. Smoking will be prohibited on all trails.
These restrictions will better provide for public safety and better protect park resources by reducing the number of unwanted fire starts. The park and surrounding lands are in a significant drought. The potential for wildland fires is great. The park has received approximately 15.5 inches of rain – less than half the normal amount for the year. The average is about 34 inches. The last time the park had similar conditions was in 2002.
Layers of downed leaves and dead branches from previous years can burn very quickly, particularly on the park’s many steep slopes. Mountain laurel and other evergreens are drought stressed. Fires can move more quickly and burn even more intensely than they would under normal conditions. Containing and controlling fires will be especially challenging.
The park has brought additional people and equipment in to assist with initial fire attack. USDA Forest Service firefighters from West Yellowstone, Montana and from Zion National Park are currently assisting Shenandoah staff by patrolling and working on fire related projects.
Fire restrictions beginning October 24 will remain in effect until conditions improve with significant rain or snow over time, decreasing the fire hazard. Rainy days here and there do little to reduce the continuing risk of wildland fire starts.
Shenandoah National Park, the Skyline Drive and other facilities and services remain open as scheduled.