Wildfire at Natural Bridge Grows as a Result of High Winds and Difficult Terrain

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 19, 2023)
 – Nearly 100 firefighters from the Kentucky Division of Forestry (KDF), U.S. Forest Service Daniel Boone National Forest and local fire departments with multiple engines and aerial resources are working to the wildfire at Natural Bridge State Resort Park/Nature Preserve in Slade, Kentucky.

Winds on Tuesday pushed the fire over containment lines, expanding it to more than 100 acres in the last 24 hours and onto US Forest Service Daniel Boone National Forest land. 

“What makes Natural Bridge unique, namely its arches and cliff lines, also makes it extremely difficult to control wildfire,” Division of Forestry Director/State Forester Brandon Howard said. “Hand crews with fire rakes have to construct containment lines while maneuvering in, around, and sometimes over cliffs.” 

All park trail heads, parking lots, except the lodge lot, remain closed to the public. While there is no current danger to the park’s lodge and cottages, it is unknown when the park will be able to reopen its trails. For more information on the park, please see updates at: parks.ky.gov/ and on Natural Bridge State Resort Park’s Facebook page: facebook.com/nbsrp.

Once the fire is contained and the spread is stopped, fire crews will turn their efforts into controlling the fire by extinguishing any smoldering material and reinforcing control lines. The cause of the wildfire remains under investigation.

The Red River Gorge area remains open for all activities, but visitors are asked to be careful when camping or hiking. Visitors to the area should be aware of possible visibility problems due to smoke from the fire.

Red Flag conditions are predicted for Thursday ahead of an approaching cold front with low humidity.

April is typically a high wildfire occurrence month and KDF encourages residents considering debris burning to exercise caution and consider all factors to help maximize the safety of people, property, and danger to the forest.

Forestry officials say that public efforts can go a long way in reducing the occurrence of wildfire. Taking extra precautions with debris fires and campfires and being alert to forest arson can eliminate the majority of wildfires that occur in Kentucky.

Report suspicious acts of arson to local law enforcement, the nearest Kentucky State Police post or call the Target Arson Hotline at 1-800-27-ARSON.

For more information on ways that you can prevent wildfires and loss of property, along with a map of local KDF field offices, visit https://eec.ky.gov/Natural-Resources/Forestry/Pages/default.aspx