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Monday, July 25, 2011

Tinker Mountain Wildfire

News Release
For Immediate Release                                                                       July 25, 2011
Contact: VDOF Salem Office            540-387-5461

Tinker Mountain Wildfire

A wildfire was reported to the Virginia Department of Forestry on Sunday and is currently burning in very rough and difficult areas to access. It is located near Troutville in Botetourt County near exit 151 off  I-81 and is burning on private land, County land and National Park Service (Appalachian Trail) lands.

The wildfire is currently 12 acres in size but has the potential to get larger due to the terrain, access, weather and dry conditions. Very little rain fell in the area over the weekend, and no rain at the fire. With temperatures in the 90’s it is very demanding on the firefighters. “This fire is in a very steep and rocky area and is being fought with hand crews and a few engines.” said Jon Willoughby, an information officer with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) on the fire. Summit Helicopters of Cloverdale is assisting with aerial recon and water drops.

There are 36 firefighters on scene, including those from the Virginia Department of Forestry, Botetourt County, the National Park Service, the US Forest Service and an inmate crew from Patrick County Corrections facility under the direction of the VDOF. Firefighter safety is the number 1 priority especially with the heat and rough mountainous conditions. There is only one structure currently threatened and no evacuations are being called for at this time. The cause of the wildfire is under investigation.

This fire will be very visible by travelers on Interstate I-81, RT. 11 and US 220. The public is being asked to stay away from the area and give the responding agencies “room to respond” to the fire. “Many narrow roads leading to the fire will become quickly clogged by sightseers making it more difficult to get people and equipment to the fire” quoted Jason Ferguson, Botetourt County Emergency Operations Coordinator.

The Appalachian Trail will be closed in the vicinity until further notice. Additional information will be provided to the media as it becomes available.

The Virginia Department of Forestry protects and develops healthy, sustainable forest resources for Virginians.  Headquartered in Charlottesville, the Agency has forestry staff members assigned to every county to provide service to citizens of the Commonwealth.  VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.

With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 144,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide more than $27.5 Billion annually in benefits to the Commonwealth. 

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