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'Centennial Fire' in White Mountain National Forest is 85% contained, officials say

The fire, which began on Monday, has resulted in the closure of a portion of the Appalachian Trail through the impacted area.

SHELBURNE, N.H. — Officials say a wildfire that's scorched part of New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest is 85% contained.

According to the White Mountain National Forest Service, the wildfire which began on Monday, has burned roughly 48 acres, but has not grown since Tuesday. 

"We have been working since Monday to get a good line around this fire, and to hold and improve that line and we're feeling very good about the state of the fire right now," John Neely said. Neely is serving as incident commander for what's being called the Centennial Fire. 

Neely is the White Mountain National Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer. He said crews have still been able to access the fire and impacted areas but the mountain is making it challenging.

"This fire has been burning in very steep, rugged terrain," Neely said. 

Due to the mountainous terrain, the fire is inaccessible to traditional fire trucks. Neely says crews have been battling the fire without the use of water.

"Water is frequently not available and the fire crews know how to put these fires out, to control and suppress these fires, without needing pumps and hoses," Neely said. 

According to officials at the scene, the incident is being managed by the White Mountain National Forest and the State of New Hampshire Forest and Lands as the fire has stretched between both state and federal lands. 

The White Mountain National Forest Service said Thursday that 22 firefighters continued to fight the blaze. As many as 35 have worked to control the fire this week. 

The fire has also forced the closure of a portion of the Appalachian Trail from the Lead Mine State Forest boundary to the junction of the Centennial Trail and the Mahoosuc Trail. 

"We hope to be able to continue the hard work that's occurring up on the mountain and reopen once it's safe for folks to get back in," said Josh Sjostrom, a district ranger in the Androscoggin Ranger District in the White Mountain National Forest.

With temperatures expected to remain dry and warm, he urged the public to be attentive and do their part to prevent human-caused wildfires.

"When these conditions occur, just be very mindful whether you're camping or hiking," Sjostorm said. "Certainly when you're having a campfire, it's just extremely dangerous conditions. Just have that on the front of your mind."

According to the White Mountain National Forest Service, the cause of the fire is still under investigation, however officials have identified and interviewed a person of interest and determined that the fire may have been caused by a warming fire that escaped.