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Wednesday, 28 December 2016 17:03

Campfire ban lifted in the Smokies

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Campfires are now legal in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time since Nov. 15.

The park lifted its fire ban Friday, Nov. 23, deeming recent rainfall sufficient to alleviate the risk of wildfire. Backcountry campfires and open grills had been banned since Nov. 1 and frontcountry fires had been banned since Nov. 15. 

Since Nov. 28, the park has received 7 to 10 inches of rain, but overall rainfall is down by 31 percent — 16 inches — for the year, as measured at park headquarters near Gatlinburg. The record low precipitation came in 2007, with 34 inches per the year. To date, about 39 inches of rain have fallen at park headquarters. The normal average is 55 inches. 

The park is the last entity in Western North Carolina to maintain a fire ban following the drought and subsequent fire season. Burn bans have been lifted for weeks in the Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, the Blue Ridge Parkway, N.C. State Parks and individual counties. 

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