How can threatening weather be bad for one state, but good for another?

That’s not usually the case with hurricanes.

But meteorologists expect rain associated with Hurricane Nate to bring 1-2 inches to much of West Virginia.

Most of the precipitation should arrive by mid Monday, and cut a wide swath across the state.

Sprinkles associated with an incoming cold front could follow and mean continued showers until mid week, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Andrew Snyder, who works out of the Sterling, Va. office.

It’s especially good news for the fire-ravaged part of rural Grant County where more than 140 acres are now burning in the North Mountain Fire.

The fire began Monday, and had increased from 50 acres on Thursday to about 100 acres yesterday. It continues to be only about 20 percent contained, despite a growing number of firefighters on the scene.

Rain can only do so much, however.

And it’s still going to be an uphill fight to contain the blaze.

Make that an uphill battle.

Parts of the area are so steep and treacherous that firefighters can’t even reach them, a federal Forest Service official said this afternoon.

It is burning in rugged terrain near the North Fork Mountain Trail, approximately 12 miles west of Petersburg in the Monongahela National Forest.

A large part of the trail, including the entire Landis and Redman Run trails, are now closed due to safety concerns.

No buildings or permanent structures are in danger at this time.

Sixty federal firefighters are now on the scene, and that number will increase tomorrow. Some are from the Southeast, others from as far away as Colorado.

Hot dry conditions, coupled with some increased wind, aren’t helping them get ahead of the growing blaze.

“It’s actually kind of picking up on the southern end of the fire. And even though we expect the rain to help, we don’t expect it to put this fire out,” said public information officer Kristen Miller.

And even though a helicopter has been used to do some bucket work by dropping water, the situation is difficult and requires some different techniques to fight it.

“This fire is burning pretty deep into the ground, and has burned in about four inches of dust and other materials,” she said.

“Typically with West Virginia fires you can use a leaf blower to kind of blow a fire line and everything will be fine. But that’s not working here. We are having to actually dig down, and that’s really hard work, especially with all the rocks, to try and put a line around this fire.”

Mountain fires have their own, inherent difficulties.

In some ways, this one is a perfect storm.

For example, today’s there been more smoke.

Add that to the other problems, and the situation looks grim.

“The terrain has been really steep. And with firefighter safety and public safety our top concerns, we are attacking this fire where we can. But there are areas where we just cannot put people,” she said.

 

“Winds are picking up. Plus there has been more sunshine here today and it has been hotter, so things really are heating up.”

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