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Crews battle two fires at Ohiopyle State Park; more than 200 acres burned

OHIOPYLE, Pa. — For the first time this year, firefighters in southwestern Pennsylvania responded to a large fire within a state park.

Volunteers from around Fayette County rushed to Ohiopyle State Park Thursday evening, to contain a fast-moving fire.

According to land management officials, more than 200 acres have been impacted by the fire.

“Middle of the afternoon, the whole town of Ohiopyle filled with smoke. Just a haze of smoke. Note really sure what it was coming from or what was going on.”

The fire was so large and intense, smoke could be seen from 30 miles away.

“The hillside was on fire the whole way down. Trees were falling. It was running up and down. The wind was blowing, so it was catching in every direction. When we got to the bottom of the hill, turned around and looked up, the hill – everything you could see was on fire,” said Rob Joseph, Ohiopyle Volunteer Fire Department.

The fires sparked in a remoted part of the park, which made access difficult for firefighters.

More than 150 firefighters responded to the scene, and according to Joseph, this was one of the most difficult fires to contain.

“We had plenty of man power and plenty of water. We just couldn’t find our way to the top of the fire or control the wind. The terrain was almost vertical in most spots, rocky, and forest,” said Joseph.

The small community of Ohiopyle hasn’t experienced a large fire in more than 15 years.

“The hiking trail is there and the train tracks. The one 15 years ago was determined to be caused by the train. I can’t say that’s what happened yesterday but it’s one of those two factors we’re assuming,” said Brian Vansickle, Farmington.