GRAVES GAP—The mountaintop fire at Graves Gap in north Anderson County burned more than 300 acres this week, a state official said Thursday afternoon.
The fire off New River Highway (Highway 116) burned about 377 acres, said Nathan Waters, assistant district forester in the Tennessee Division of Forestry Administration’s East Tennessee District.
It was officially called the Switchback Fire. Graves Gap is near the top of a mountain reached by a series of switchbacks on New River Highway. It is between Frost Bottom Road and Briceville Highway, which connect Oliver Springs and Briceville, and New River and Rosedale.
The cause of the Graves Gap fire is under investigation, Waters said. He wasn’t aware of any structures that were endangered, although there are homes and churches near the mountaintop.
The rain on Thursday afternoon helped control the fire, and firefighters were able to come off the mountain, Waters said. They would check back on the fire on Friday, he said.
There was a 375-acre fire in the same area five years ago, in November 2012. Arson was suspected in that case.
The Graves Gap fire was the second large fire in the area this week.
A fire on Big Brushy Mountain between Oliver Springs and Petros reported on Sunday grew to 514 acres, Waters said.
As of Thursday afternoon, the rain hadn’t fallen on that fire, which was about seven miles northwest of Oliver Springs and a few miles south of Petros. But firefighters had a containment line around it and were trying to make sure it didn’t escape the line, Waters said.
He said much of the response would be driven by the wind, a major contributor to the spread of fires. Spotty showers were expected on Thursday, Waters said.
The cause of the Big Brush Mountain/Tree Top Lane fire, which was visible from State Route 62 in Morgan County, was still under investigation, Waters said.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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