Arson suspected in wildfire at Ky. state park, officials say

Arson suspected in wildfire at Ky. state park, officials say
Published: Apr. 25, 2023 at 3:33 PM EDT
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POWELL COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - The Kentucky Division of Forestry says the wildfire at Natural Bridge State Park burned more than 100 acres before crews were able to get it 100% contained.

Steve Kull with the Kentucky Division of Forestry says usually they can put out a wildfire in a day or so. However, he says this wasn’t the case this time due to the nature of the park’s cliff lines and formations.

“This fire was a very complicated fire just because of the terrain,” said Kull. “We had to find areas where our crews could come off the top of the mountain and maybe a break in the cliff line where they could establish their control lines and be able to hold the fire.”

Kull says, originally, they expected 240 acres to burn, but crews were able to contain it to 125 acres. Kull says no property was damaged, including the skylift building at the top where the fire was raging.

“It’s the dedication of about 100 firefighters that were out there working 12, 14, 16-hour shifts making sure everything was controlled,” said Kull.

Kull says it’s still unclear how the fire was started but that they do suspect arson.

“Now that it’s safe, it’s out and so on, our investigators will look closer at where it started and how it might have gotten started,” said Kull.

Kull says this wildfire is one of roughly 600 that have occurred across the state this spring. He says they account for the nearly 14,000 acres that have burned.

We’re told it’s now up to the park to determine when the trails will reopen and what repairs, if any, need to be done before visitors can come back. We have reached out to the park to see what their timeline is for reopening, but we haven’t heard back yet.