GATLINBURG (WATE) – Campers are still in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to enjoy a trip before it gets too cold. A campfire could keep them warm, but they aren’t allowed right now due to the regional burn ban.
“(We) sat around the fire ring without a fire,” said camper Steve Langford.
Previous story: Regional burn ban issued for entire East Tennessee area
It was pitch black at every campsite Wednesday night at Elkmont Campground. Langford came from Georgia Tuesday morning when campfires were still allowed. He and his wife stocked up on campfire supplies, but those plans changed just a few hours after they arrived.
“They came around telling everybody that there was a burn ban. No fires,” he said.
He and other campers don’t seem to mind.
“Very dry. I wouldn’t wan tot have a fire even if there weren’t a burn ban. I’ve never seen it so dry,” Langford said.
“I would hate to see our forests destroyed,” said Bob Mullikin.
Mullikin says he is used to the dry conditions.
“We currently live in northern Arizona, and maybe three or four months out of the year in northern Arizona we are not allowed to have fires,” he said.
So, he is finding other ways to stay warm – thick sleeping bags and mattresses in the bed of his truck. He’s still enjoying the trip even without a good campfire.
“Anything to protect the forest,” he said.
The National Park Service says they have not had any problems so far with people violating the ban. They say they have staff and signs at the campgrounds to remind people coming from out of town.
Previous story: 4 Smoky Mountains trails closed due to wildfire
Park rangers reopened several trails Wednesday that had previously been closed due to a wildfire near the summit of the Chimney Tops Trail. That trail, Sugarland Mountain, Huskey Gap and Road Prong have all reopened.