Seneca Rocks Area Reopens After Being Closed Due to Fire
The United States Department of Agriculture provided Allegheny Mountain Radio with the following updated information from a news release dated Thursday, July 6th about the fire that broke out at Seneca Rocks on July 1st.
The Seneca Rocks area re-opened Friday morning, July 7th at 6:00 a.m. The area was closed Sunday, July 2nd for public safety. Visitors to the area are encouraged to take extra precaution since a portion of the area has experienced a wildfire. New hazards will now be present in places in and around the fire area. Signs will be posted at all trail heads and other key locations, making visitors aware of risks associated with the fire. These risks include rolling, falling, and unstable debris such as rocks, trees, and snags. These issues will remain a safety concern for some time into the future and should be considered when planning a trip to Seneca Rocks.
Most major climbing routes were not directly impacted by the fire, however, climbers should use caution when re-entering the area because of unstable footing along access routes, as well as possible changes to climbing routes. The Seneca Rocks hiking trail and observation platform were both impacted by the fire, but have been cleared of immediate hazards.
While a small contingent of firefighters will remain at the Seneca Fire, the threat of the wildfire spreading lessens each day due to the rain received over the burned area. The five acre fire is not completely out and containment is estimated at 60%. Incident Commander, Terry Walter, says, “The fire will continue to smolder for at least several more days. If an extended period of hot and dry weather returns to the area the fire may become active again.” If this were to happen, the area may once again be restricted to the public.
Cheat-Potomac District Ranger, Troy Waskey, states, “We appreciate the public’s patience and support throughout this incident. We realize closing the area during the July 4th holiday was not convenient for visitors, members of the community, and our climbing outfitters and guides, but it was important to ensure firefighter and public safety while we engaged the fire.”
The cause of the Seneca Fire is still under investigation by the USDA Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations. Anyone with any information is encouraged to call the USDA Forest Service at (304) 636-1800 ext. 331. Any information will be kept confidential. A reward is being offered for information leading to the identification, arrest, and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for starting the fire.