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Forest fire contained; Kingdom Come State Park will re-open

By: Eric Eckstrom, Angela Sparkman Email
By: Eric Eckstrom, Angela Sparkman Email
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CUMBERLAND, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE 4/14/14

A forest fire in the Cumberland area of Harlan County burned hundreds of acres.

Part of the fire spread to Kingdom Come State Park and officials were forced to shut it down. Officials plan to re-open the park on Tuesday.

Forest rangers say the fire is 506 acres, 200 of those burning acres are in the Kingdom Come State Park.

Forest Rangers say the fire is contained and now they are going over hot spots and monitoring the fire lines.

Monday's weather brought relief and helped contain the fire.

"We got a lot of relief with the weather. We got a lot of cloud cover and a little bit of precipitation, kind of calmed the flames down a little bit," said Lem Johnson, Forest Ranger.

The flames started Friday and spread all weekend. The fire did not threaten any buildings but flames and smoke filled hiking trails and other areas of Kingdom Come State Park, so state officials closed the park.

Firefighters used areas of the park to put in fire lines to keep it from spreading more.

"We've been lucky to use some of their trails, hiking trails, and some access roads to contain the fire," said Johnson.

Although the fire is contained, emergency management officials warn people to still take precaution in the area.

"The ground is still super dry and people need to watch with burning. Any open burning is very dangerous not only here in Cumberland, but the entire county," said David McGill, Harlan County Emergency Management Director.

Crews will be out on Tuesday monitoring the fire lines.

Officials plan to have the Kingdom Come State Park open and operating on normal schedule on Tuesday.

The Red Cross and Salvation Army provided meals for the firefighters and other responders on Monday.

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UPDATE: 4/13/14
Dozens of emergency responders were at Kingdom Come State Park in Cumberland Sunday to contain a fire that began Friday morning on Sand Hill Road, just a few miles from the park's boundary.

“They were estimating that we would lose 100 acres. It did jump some fire lines, so now they're estimating we will lose 200 acres in the park,” said Chris Early, of the Kentucky State Park Rangers.

Officials told WYMT that the fire crossed into the park sometime Saturday evening. They say current weather and geographic factors have helped the fire to spread.

“The temperatures we've had, as well as the conditions we've had these past couple of days. The smallest spark can get that going, and where this fire originated from, it was very overgrown, and so that is how it kind of went from there to just [spreading quickly],” said David McGill, director of Harlan County Emergency Management

As of Sunday afternoon, officials say around 75% of the fire has been contained, and that responders are working around the clock to raise that percentage.

“These guys are in very rough terrain fighting this fire. It’s hot and the fire makes it that much hotter and they are giving it their all and we're going to be there to support them and appreciate everything they're doing,” McGill said.

Officials say the work of area fire departments, Kentucky’s Division of Forestry and others Sunday have given them hope that the fire will be fully contained soon, however, they say the Kentucky National Guard is “on-call” should they need additional support.
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As of Sunday afternoon, no injuries resulting from the blaze have been reported. Officials say they have closed public access to Kingdom Come State Park until further notice.

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Original Story: 4/11/14

Firefighters say they believe it all started with a house fire around 9:00am Friday, and then spread to a couple cars, then to the trees on Sand Hill in Cumberland. Now more than 100 acres are burning.

Folks with the Kentucky Division of Forestry say they've been working since Friday morning to contain the fire.

“Right now we're looking at a fire that has burned at least 100 to 200 acres. It’s uncontained and it could double in size and if we don't get it tonight, but right now we don't have any containment lines on it,” says Lem Johnson of the Division of Forestry

No injuries have been reported, however, officials say the fire has taken down power lines and is causing significant damage to the area.

“We’ve actually had two structures which have bunt to the ground; they were uninhabited at the time and kind of falling down, but there is definitely two structures as well as numerous vehicles that have been burnt,” Johnson said.

And as the fire continues to spread, people who live nearby say the experience has been emotional.

“There was just nothing but smoke, and I looked over at my Papa and was like, 'Is our house going to burn down?', and he was like ‘no,’ and my mom was just terrified,” says 10-year-old Nick Brown.

Investigators told WYMT that the fire began as a single house fire, though the cause of that house fire has yet to be determined.
As of early Friday evening, officials tell us they have yet to contain the fire.


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