Several trails and backcountry campsites are closed between Newfound Gap Road and Deep Creek in North Carolina due to the 310-acre Thomas Divide Complex wildfire that started south of the park on Saturday, 3/26/22, in the early afternoon. The fire is estimated to be 10% contained with about half of the fire burning within the park boundary.
A Unified Command Center has been established to coordinate suppression efforts and includes personnel from the National Park Service, North Carolina Forest Service, Bryson City Fire Department, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Approximately 50 firefighters are working to establish firebreak lines using hand crews and bulldozers. Outside the park, firefighters are working to provide structure protection. Air resources are available to respond if wind speeds allow.
The following areas remain closed: Backcountry campsites 46, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60; Deep Creek and Thomas Divide trails from Deep Creek to Newfound Gap Road; Pole Road Creek, Indian Creek, Stone Pile Gap, Deep Creek Horse Bypass, Juney Whank Falls, Deeplow, Fork Ridge, Sunkota Ridge, Martins Gap, Indian Creek Motor Nature, Mingus Creek, Newton Bald, Kanati Fork, and Loop trails. Toms Branch Road near Deep Creek is also closed. The Deep Creek Campground and Picnic Area are not scheduled to open for the season until April 15.
Thomas Divide Complex Fire Update: The fire continues burning east of Bryson City, NC and north into the National Park. About 46% of the the 750-acre fire is within the park boundary. Crews were hampered by high winds and low humidity today. As of 8:00 p.m. on 3/27/22, the fire is now 30% contained.
The complex is comprised of two wildfires, the Stone Pile Fire and the Cooper Creek Fire, both of which ignited on 3/26/22 by downed power lines due to high winds and fallen trees.
The Unified Command Center continues to coordinate the suppression efforts with approximately 70 personnel from the National Park Service, North Carolina Forest Service, Bryson City Fire Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Swain County Fire Department, and Jackson County Emergency Management. Plans are being developed to transfer oversight to the Southern Area Type II Incident Management Team in the upcoming days.
Crews will remain in place overnight to provide structure protection. Air resources will return tomorrow to respond if wind speeds allow.