Forest Fires Threatens Chilhowee Trails
Update – July 10, 2012:
The Chilhowee forest fire continues to burn after consuming nearly 1600 acres. The entire Chilhowee recreation area (camp ground) remains closed.
All of the mountain biking and hiking trails remain closed. It is unknown if the fire has affected the trails, however the current fire line is reported to be two miles south of the recreation area, which is an area that includes portions of many of Chilhowee’s most popular trails.
Authorities state the fire was started last Thursday as a result of a tree falling on a power line during a thunder store. It is unknown if last picture to the original post, (see below) noting a tree down over a power line, with a burn pattern, is the actual source of the fire described by authorities.
A forest first has burned several hundred acres on Chilhowee Mountain in the South Cherokee National Forest.
About 80 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee State Parks Department were battling the fires with help from three water-dropping helicopters and two bulldozers. Throughout Sunday afternoon the helicopters were spaced, so one of the three helicopter was quickly filling up its water bucket in the middle of the Ocoee River about once every three minutes.
The fireline was within two miles of the Chilhowee Recreation Area and entire recreation area and all trails were closed Sunday as a result.
It is unknown how long the recreation area and trails will be closed, or if any of the trails have suffered any damage.
The Tanasi Trails around the Ocoee Whitewater Center are unaffected and remain open to the public.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Schaarschmidt