Crews Work to Contain Seneca Rocks Fire

The Seneca Fire was reported on Saturday, July 1, and the fire was located on the hillside just below this observation deck on Seneca Rocks Hiking Trail. 

Fire crews began attacking the flames by creating a fire line on the north side of the mountain.

Sunday evening firefighters focused their effort on Seneca Rocks Observation Platform to remove any unburned vegetation.  The platform is still intact. 

“Here at the observation platform we have provided some safety areas around here,” said Crew Boss Kirk Piehler. “As you can see off to the, in this direction here, to the east and to the south, we burned this area off to keep it from burning in a way that would cast embers over onto the east face.” 

One of the biggest hindrances for fire crews has been the rocky and steep terrain of the mountain. 

Some fire containing efforts have been halted because of the hazardous conditions of the affected areas. 

“The south side of the fire, the south flank, is the area along the cliff face that’s hazardous for firefighters; it’s hazardous for anybody right now to be below because of debris rolling out from above,” continued Piehler. 

Monongahela National Forest District Ranger Troy Waskey said the burning could have a positive effect on the mountain’s forest area. 

“In terms of resource damage, this fire is actually burning in the understory which is a good thing,” said Waskey.  “It’s actually cleaning out some of the vegetation, and it's doing some bit of good for forest health.” 

As the fire winds down, crews will transition their efforts toward cleanup and rehabilitation. 

There is no word yet on when the hiking trail will reopen to the public.  An investigation into who started the fire is still ongoing. 

Crews are hoping for rain in the forecast for the next several days so that flames can be put out and containment and cleanup can begin.

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