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Monday, April 16, 2012

Arson Rewards offered and Wildfire Updates, Almost 30,000 acres in VA have burned in last 10 days

Arson Suspected As Cause of Page County and Bath County Wildfires, $2,000 Reward Offered

Wildland fire investigators suspect that the 4,000-acre Shipwreck Fire burning in Page County was ignited by one or more arsonists as was the 125 acre Stuart Fire in Patrick County.   
“The lives and property of residents and firefighters are directly threatened by these suspicious fires,” said John Miller, director of resource protection for the Virginia Department of Forestry.  “When a wildfire is intentionally set, it endangers lives and can cause unbelievable destruction to land, trees and homes,” Miller said.  “In addition, when firefighters are working an arson fire, they and their equipment are not available to suppress other wildland fires.  This depletion of resources puts even more people and their property at risk.”
The Virginia Department of Forestry needs citizens to be vigilant in the fight against arson.  If you see something suspicious, call 911 or in Page County you can call the Page County Crime Solvers Number at 540-743-3272. Call immediately day or night the quicker law enforcement officers can respond the greater the chance to be successful.  Your help may be worth up to $2,000 – the reward offered for information that leads to the conviction of an arsonist.
The lack of rain, low humidity, high winds and mountainous terrain helped the fire spread quickly, and the additional fire starts pose great danger to anyone or anything in their path.
Woods arson is the common term for deliberately burning forests, grasslands or brush without the owner’s permission. The VDOF and other law enforcement officials are concerned with the number and frequency of these dangerous, destructive and senseless criminal acts. Woods arson is a felony in Virginia and, when convicted, the guilty person could serve up to five years in prison, pay a fine of $2,500 and be liable for the cost of suppressing the fire.
If you see any fire where firefighters have not yet arrived on the scene, make note of the following:
  • Location and time of the fire
  • Description of persons observed in the area
  • Description of any vehicles observed and the license plate if possible
  • Any other pertinent information
"We need the public's help in the continuing investigation of the cause of these suspicious fires,”. Your information may be just the piece of the puzzle that helps us put an end to potentially deadly and criminal acts.” 

                        Elevated fire weather conditions continue across Virginia. Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) reports 33 fires burned approximately 102 acres on private land. Fifty-one homes/structures were protected and 1 home/structure was damaged from Friday, 13 April, through Sunday, 15 April. Large wildfires on private property and National Forest land:

·         Easter Complex (6 fires managed by U.S. Forest Service Incident Management Team the “Blue Team”)
o   Page County, Shipwreck Fire: acreage burned – 4,000; 100% contained
o   Alleghany/Craig Counties, Barbours Creek Fire: acreage burned – 4,783; 40% contained
o   Shenandoah County, Wolf Gap Fire: acreage burned – 755; 95% contained
o   Alleghany/Rockbridge Counties, Rich Hole Fire: acreage burned – 12,131; 30% containment
o   Alleghany County, Alleghany Tunnel Fire: acreage burned – 11,381; 85% contained
o   Bath County, Porter Mills Fire: acreage burned – 879; 95% contained (assumed management on 15 April)

The following Counties have notified us that they have implemented county wide bans on all open burning that are over and above the stats 4PM burn law. PLEASE check with your county if you are planning any outdoor activity that may involve open burning.

Botetourt County
King George County
Caroline County
Bath County and
Northampton County.

 In addition I know that Douthat State Park has also enacted restrictions on within the boundary of the park that prohibit campfires and the use of any outdoor fires.
From the Park’s web site….Due to extreme fire conditions there is a burn ban within the park. All open fires and charcoal fires are prohibited at this time. Propane is permissible.

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