On a windy day in 2011 a hot coal from an outdoor furnace ignited a pile of dry leaves at a home near Smith Run Road. The wind quickly spread the fire to nearby trees. The fire quickly spread further along the mountainside toward Mt. Marshall and up to the Skyline Drive. Soon, it crossed the drive and started down the other side of the mountain. By that time most of the trees in this area of the National Park were burning.
Local fire fighters, Park Service fire fighters and fire fighters from neighboring counties and states fought the fire for several days. The Browntown Community Center was established as a fire staging center and command center. Almost immediately after the magnitude of the fire was known, the ladies of the village of Browntown began setting up the Community Center to feed and house the fire fighters. Many of the fire fighters remarked that they had never gotten such excellent care and "so much food".
The fire continued burning for several days, destroying 3,300 acres of Park Land and residential properties. You can still see the remains of burned out areas on the mountainside as you drive up Smith Run Road.