New containment lines set to control Natural Bridge wildfire

Published 3:00 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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Firefighters from the Kentucky Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service Daniel Boone National Forest and local fire departments said Thursday that they have set new containment lines to control the wildfire at Natural Bridge State Resort Park/Nature Preserve in Powell County.

Containment lines set earlier this week were breached by high winds that were experienced starting on Tuesday.

The fire, which began late Monday near the sky bridge platform and has now consumed around 100 acres, has not affected any structures, but has forced the closure of all cottages at the park, the Woodland Center, trailheads and parking lots. Access to Mill Creek Lake also is closed to the public.  The park lodge remains open, with regular hours.

Guests who were staying in the cottages have now been moved to the lodge.

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“Our largest concern is the approaching weather front and the winds it brings to the area,” said Division of Forestry Director/State Forester Brandon Howard.  “We feel we are in a good place with our control efforts, but this will be difficult and dangerous for our firefighters.”

The Red River Gorge Geological Area remains open, but visitors are being asked to exercise caution when camping or hiking.  Visitors to the area should be aware of possible visibility issues due to smoke from the fire.  Campgrounds in the Gorge will be open for campers this weekend.

Spring burn restrictions remain in effect across Kentucky through April 30. During this time, state law prohibits any person to burn between the daylight hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., in or within 150 feet of any woodland or brushland.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry has responded to more than 600 wildland fires since Jan. 1. Most of the wildfires have been a result of outdoor debris burning escaping and arson.

Forestry officials say that public efforts can go a long way in reducing wildfires. Taking extra precautions with debris fires and campfires and being alert to forest arson can eliminate the majority of wildfires that occur in Kentucky.

The KDF asks people to report suspicious acts of arson to local law enforcement, the nearest Kentucky State Police post, or call the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.