Joe Guzikowski, '20, was biking through Lehigh Gorge State Park when he came upon the brush fire. A Carbon County dispatcher said the fire's cause is not yet known. (Courtesy of Grace Boak)

UPDATE: 24 hours later, Jim Thorpe fire still burning but has been contained

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UPDATE, 5/21/2020: Nicholas Sulzer, the assistant manager at Hickory Run State Park, said the “sides” of a brush fire that consumed 250 acres of Lehigh Gorge State Park have been contained. The Hickory Run State Park Complex oversees Lehigh Gorge State Park.

The fire is still burning, however, Sulzer said, and fire fighters are still on scene. He said the fire is no longer burning on park property and is now on private property and Pennsylvania Game Lands.

Sulzer said fire fighters worked all day yesterday and into the night last night to contain the fire. A cause for the fire is under investigation, Sulzer said.

Sulzer said he is not aware of any fire-related injuries.

The Lehigh Gorge Trail between Glen Onoko and Rockport was closed to allow emergency personnel to access the fire, but was reopened as of this morning.

5/20/2020: A brush fire has been burning in Lehigh Gorge State Park for about five hours, according to a Carbon County dispatcher. There are no injuries at this time.

The dispatcher said authorities have not yet identified a cause for the fire in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. The dispatcher said 20 local fire departments and the state’s Bureau of Forestry are on the scene working to put out the flames.

As of 5:45 p.m., fire fighters on scene had requested five more fire units to assist with hosing down the fire, the dispatcher said.

“They’re still trying to get it under control,” the dispatcher said.

The dispatcher said he was not aware of any plans for the park to close as a result of the fire.

Joe Guzikowski, ’20, was biking through Lehigh Gorge State Park at around 1 p.m. with Grace Boak, ’20, when he came upon smoke. Eventually, several fire trucks came to the scene, and he stopped to watch the scene play out.

That’s when he realized it was serious.

“I had never seen an actual fire that was genuinely out of control,” Guzikowski said. “The wind was belting these flames, and you could hear it crackling.”

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A Carbon County dispatcher said 20 local fire departments and the state's Bureau of Forestry are on scene dealing with a fire in Lehigh Gorge State Park. (Courtesy of Joe Guzikowski)

Lehigh Gorge State Park is a popular hiking destination for Lehigh students. The park is located about 50 minutes north of Bethlehem and contains over 6,000 acres of land, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The park is also known for its whitewater rafting.

Guzikowski said he and Boak then went into the town of Jim Thorpe for lunch, and fire trucks continued to pass through the town blaring their sirens to get to the fire.

“It was just crazy,” he said. “These things really do happen.”

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1 Comment

  1. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    90% chance that the cause was railroad related; many chances of sparks being generated by passing trains/crews. This was a common occurrence when I had track maintenance responsibilities. Second choice is a passing recreation trail user.

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