published Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Wildfire closes Chilhowee Recreation Center

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cherokee National Forest closed its Chilhowee Recreation Area Sunday because of a wildfire that had consumed about 200 acres.

Spokesman Terry McDonald said in a media release that the fire started off U.S. 64, one-half mile east of the Ocoee Ranger Station adjacent to Parksville Lake in Polk County.

About 80 personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Tennessee Division of Forestry, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Tennessee State Parks Department were battling the blaze with help from three water-dropping helicopters and two bulldozers.

All trails plus Forest Road 77 were also closed.

Acting Ocoee District Ranger Andy Gaston said fire lines were within two miles of the recreation area. He suggested campers and hikers use the 30 miles of trails around the Ocoee Whitewater Center instead.

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