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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rain a welcomed sight and more is on the way.

Just what Smokey ordered.




Easter Complex

Current acreage: 39,538 acres, 80% contained


**This is the FINAL Easter Complex media update from the Southern Area Blue Team. Call (540) 525 – 1539 for future updates.


Buena Vista, Va - Steady rain for a six to 12 hour period Wednesday will continue to assist firefighters on the Easter Complex fire. Upwards of one half inch of rain is expected throughout the day, which will significantly contribute to suppression efforts. All fires on the Easter Complex are in a mopup and hold status as firefighters continue to improve containment lines around all fires.

Despite today’s rain, smoke from interior portions of fires within the Easter Complex may be present for some days. This smoke is from any remaining unburned fuels within the containment lines. Crews will continue to monitor and patrol these areas until each fire is completely suppressed.

Demobilization of excess resources began Tuesday, and will continue throughout Wednesday and Thursday. The Southern Area Blue Team (The Incident Management Team in charge of managing the Easter Complex) is transitioning control of the Easter Complex back to the local districts on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests Thursday morning. Crews from 29 states across the country will begin traveling home today.


The following is a summary of all Easter Complex Fires:


· Alleghany Tunnels Fire: 11,381 acres, 90% containment.

· Barbours Creek Fire: 7,352 acres, 80% containment.

· Porter Mills: 879 acres, 100% containment

· Rich Hole Fire: 15,454 acres, 75% containment.

· Shipwreck Fire: 3,717 acres, 100% containment.

· Wolf Gap: 755 acres, 95% containment.



 


 
Assigned to Complex:

36 Engines

4 Dozers

5 Helicopters

15 Hand Crews

694 Personnel


 

Incident Commander

Blue Team- Mike Wilkins



Cooperators: Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police, various county resources, numerous local and county law enforcement agencies and volunteer fire departments.


Closures: The George Washington and Jefferson National Forests have issued closure orders that remain in effect for areas surrounding the Easter Complex Wildfires. Revisions are in progress for these closure orders. The most recent amendment affects the Rich Hole Fire. The area closed to public use at the Rich Hole Fire includes the Rich Hole Trail (Trail # 464) and Forest Road 108. It also includes all National Forest System lands within a boundary defined by the Rich Hole Trail, Forest Road 108 and state route 850.

Homeowners are encouraged to visit www.firewise.org for information on how to make their homes more defensible from wildfires. In addition, Ready, Set, Go www.wildlandfirersg.org is another good website for homeowners living in or near the forest.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Woods Arson Seems To Be On The Increase YOUR HELP IS NEEDED



The face of ARSON has changed over time from the Fire Wolf to GUBRIF and the Fire Bug which looked a lot like a dragon. What does the face of an arsonist look like today?  The face of an arsonist looks a lot like you and me it could be someone in your neighborhood, someone you see in the local grocery store. It could be a man, a woman, a teenager or a senior citizen.


Arson is regarded as one of the easiest crimes to perpetrate and the most challenging to identify and verify.  Even though the challenges are many each and every one of us has a responsibility to help put a stop to this senseless crime. And it IS A CRIME no matter who perpetrates it. It is also NOT a victimless Crime; it can have very serious consequences and can even be deadly!



Investigating the origin and cause of a wildfire to determine if it is a case of arson  requires the work of skilled fire and arson investigators sifting through ash and debris to determine if a fire was in fact arson. We can help by reporting ANY suspicious activity and by calling the authorities IMMEDIATELY if you see a wildfire in the area where Arson has been the suspected cause of a wildfire. Many arsonists tend to “work” in a  specific locality and rarely travel great distances away from where they work or travel to on a regular basis.


SMOKEY BEAR, FIREFIGHTERS AND YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS REALLY NEED YOUR HELP!

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.” 





Summary:  
                        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.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's Smokey Bear Time

The recent forest fires in Virginia are a Reminder to some and a wake-up call to others.

The mild winter with very little precipitation and the dry spring we are having, coupled with the windy conditions of late, are a recipe for a bad forest and wildfire season.

Places in Virginia that would typically be out of fire season are holding on to the last (hopefully) gasp of Spring Fire season.  It doesn’t take much to ignite the dry grass and low-lying scrubs in underbrush. Last spring and summer, we were worrying about everything washing away, and now we have to worry about things going up in smoke. The landscape has been drying out for several months, and without a significant amount of rain, conditions are only going to get worse. Caution and, most of all, common sense will be the watchwords in the outdoors.



In an average year there are approximately 1,200 wildfires in Virginia. Of those, more than 90 percent are caused by people.

In addition to those fires started deliberately by arsonists, some of the most common causes include burning leaves and debris, unattended campfires , sparks from equipment and vehicles,  discarded cigarettes and children playing with matches.


So here are some of the things you can do to help cut down on the chances of accidently starting a wildfire.
• One of the first and most important things you can do is educate children on the dangers of matches or lighters. Needless to say, you should always keep these devices and other combustibles out of the reach of children. It is also important that children know not to touch lighters and matches, and if they come upon them, to alert an adult.

For those of you who still smoke you should do so in a safe manner. Use the ashtray in your vehicle, and when in the outdoors, wet your used cigarette, pipe ashes or cigar before discarding. If no water is available, crush it with your shoe and make sure it is completely out. Never just throw a cigarette out the window of your vehicle.

Another common cause of wildfires is debris burning that gets “out of control”. Please before lighting that match make sure it is legal to be burning, many local and state laws are in place that prohibit or limit open air burning at various times of the year. Currently we are still in what is referred to as the 4 PM Law time period. It is illegal to have any open air fire within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass before 4 PM.  Several localities currently have restrictions in place so it is recommended that you check with your local Virginia Department of Forestry or Law enforcement agency.


• The careless use of a campfire is yet another of the causes of wildfires. However, there are several things you can do to keep a campfire from turning into a disaster. First and foremost is to always check to see if there is a fire ban in the area you are camping. Even if there is no fire ban, there are some simple rules you should follow when building a fire when camping, fishing or partaking in any other outdoor activity. First, always clear the area around your fire for at least 10 feet, so it is free of debris and any material that might ignite from a stray spark. Always dig a pit for your fire and or ring it with rocks to isolate the fire from the surrounding area. Always keep a bucket of water and shovel close to the fire to quickly put out any problems. It is also a good practice to keep a fire extinguisher in your vehicle or camper, and keep it handy around a campfire. You should also choose hard woods that burn cleanly and don’t throw a lot of sparks. Finally, NEVER leave your fire unattended. Not only is this against the law but is is very dangerous. When you go to sleep or are leaving your fire make sure it is completely out, “Dead Out”, pour water on the ashes of your fire and stir them with the shovel or rake and pour more water on them. Do this over and over until there is no smoke or heat left.


A charred landscape is one of the most depressing scenes in the outdoors, so if you will be camping, fishing or participating in any other outdoor activity this spring and summer, please follow Smokey Bear’s message Always Be Careful With Fire. Remember Only You Can Prevent a Wildfire.



What else can you do to help?
If you live in or near a wooded area, the Virginia Firewise program can help protect your home and community from wildfires. The Firewise program offers simple ways community members can work together to prevent their properties from becoming fuel for a wildfire. Residents can reduce the risk of their home’s ignition with simple changes to their homes and immediate surroundings. For example, clearing a space around your home can reduce wildfire threat. Reduce surrounding vegetation and prune large trees. Even something as simple as cleaning gutters and eaves of leaves and debris can prevent an ember from igniting a home.

This year, we hope to keep wildfires in Virginia to a minimum by enlisting more help from the public. Using the simple tips above can help us prevent a wildfire from becoming catastrophic.
REMEMBER ........









THANKS for doing your part and not letting a wildfire start.

Many of our recent wildfires have been very suspicious in nature, in my next blog, pending any significant wildfire activity, I will discuss the problem of woods arson, what can be done and how you can help.

Rich Hole Wilderness Wildfire

The following pictures were taken by someone at the Rockbridge Alum Springs Youth Camp in Rockbridge County . They are GREAT shots really showing the challanges firefighters face when wildfires impact the Wildland Urban Interface.
Rockbridge Alum Springs Youth Life Camp




Rich Hole Fire (4/12/2012 @ 5:00 p.m.)
PIO’s Alan Craft and Karen Grubbs (540) 962-2214
Location- 17 miles east of Covington in the Simpson Creek drainage of eastern Alleghany County and western Rockbridge County.  Estimated 80% of fire is burning in the Rich Hole Wilderness.  Fire is burning on private land and national forest.
Total acres:  3,669
SR 60 (between I-64 Exit 35 and 43)
Fire reported 4/9/2012 at 7:00 p.m. and cause is under investigation.
Total Personnel Assigned: 180

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Firefighters about to stick a fork in this one and call it done

The main suppression activity is all but over with HOWEVER firefighters will stay with this fire monitoring and moping up for several days or until significant rain occurs.




Shipwreck FIRE UPDATE

Approximately 4000 acres.  3200 acres on National Forest System Land; 800 acres on private land. Additional and enhanced data resulted in the acreage reduction.

   The fire is estimated as 90% contained.

The following roads are closed until further notice: Cub Run Road (FS Road #65).The public will not be able to access Pitt Springs, Big Mountain Road or Peter Fish Road due to this closure.
The following trails are closed until further notice:
Pitt Spring Lookout #584, Massanutten Mountain South #416 (beginning at Pitt Springs and extending South), Fridley Gap #419, Second Mountain #580 (including Boone Run Shelter, Martin Bottom #579, and Morgan Run #583.

The voluntary evacuation for the Shipwreck Farms Area has been lifted.  All residents are permitted to return to their property.

 

Firefighters will continue mopping up and patrolling the area. Some backfiring operations (burning out unburned areas within the constructed fire lines) will be performed as needed.

 



 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Complex and Shipwereck Wildfire Update


Maps produced by the Virginia Department of Forestry used to help evaluate various challanges with an event such as this. One of those challanges is projecting the wildfires growth potential and its current and future impact of people, homes, businesses and resources in the Wildland Urban Interface.






video


video


Fire Information Number for overall fire situation and public inquiries : 
Marq Webb (404) 354-6005 or Michael Williams (540) 525-1539
Fire Information Email-  eastercomplex2012@gmail.com
Incident Management Team is based at the Buena Vista Work Center.

Six fires have burned 20,288 acres.
Over 360 people are assigned to these fires from 23 states including AL, AR, AZ, CO, FL, GA, ID, KY, LA, MI, MN, MS, MT, NC, NM, OK, OR, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, & WV.




Lee RD:
Wolf Gap Fire (4/12/2012 @ 5:00 p.m.)
PIO- Stephanie Bushong (540) 984-4101. 
Location- Hardy Co. West Virginia and Shenandoah Co. VA
Total Acres: 650 acres primarily on national forest in the Wolf Gap area.
Many road and trail closures- please see official update for details.
Firefighters are working to protect Wolf Gap Campground.
Fire was detected Sunday afternoon 4/8/12.  Cause is undetermined. 
Total Personnel Assigned:  46

Shipwreck Fire (4/12/2012 @ 3:30 p.m.)
PIO- Cindy Frenzel (540) 333-3784
Location- Fire is west of the town of Shenandoah on the Page/Rockingham County Line, east of Harrisonburg. 
Total Acres: 5,971 acres.
Fire was detected on 4/8/12; Fire cause is under investigation.







James River RD:
Alleghany Tunnels Fire (4/12/2012 @ 5:00 p.m.)
PIO’s Alan Craft and Karen Grubbs (540) 962-2214
Location- The Alleghany Tunnels Fire is burning in a remote location 10 miles west of Covington, Alleghany County.  Fire is in the Dunlap Creek drainage of western Alleghany County.
Total acres: 7,656
Forest Roads 69 and 345 are closed.
Smoke visible on I64, SR 311 and SR 59. 
Fire reported 4/7/2012 and cause is undetermined.
Total Personnel Assigned:  56

Rich Hole Fire (4/12/2012 @ 5:00 p.m.)
PIO’s Alan Craft and Karen Grubbs (540) 962-2214
Location- 17 miles east of Covington in the Simpson Creek drainage of eastern Alleghany County and western Rockbridge County.  Estimated 80% of fire is burning in the Rich Hole Wilderness.  Fire is burning on private land and national forest.
Total acres:  3,669
SR 60 (between I-64 Exit 35 and 43)
Fire reported 4/9/2012 at 7:00 p.m. and cause is under investigation.
Total Personnel Assigned: 180

Eastern Divide RD:
Barbours Creek Fire (4/12/2012 @ 5:00 p.m.)
PIO: Barb Walker @ New Castle Work Station (540) 864-5195
Location- Potts Mountain along the Craig/Alleghany Line, 15 miles north of New Castle.  The fire is in Barbours Creek Wilderness and extends into Alleghany and Craig counties.
Total Acres:  2,685 acres
The four residences located northeast of the fire have been secured.  Residences on the northwest corner are the priority today.
Potts Mountain Jeep Trail  and Pines Campground are closed.  Please use caution when driving Barbours Creek Road (SR 617).
Fire was reported on 4/7/2012; cause is undetermined.
Total Personnel Assigned: 82 firefighters plus support staff

Glenwood & Pedlar Ranger Districts:
Cove Mountain Fire (4/12/2012 @ 5:00 p.m.)
PIO- JoBeth Brown (540) 265-5102
57 acres burning in remote area near Arcadia in Botetourt County.
The AT was closed from Saturday morning until Monday morning.  The fire did not reach the trail.
No structures threatened, no roads/trails closed.
Possible smoke visible from I-81
Total Personnel Assigned:  19



News Release
For Immediate Release                                                                                      April 12, 2012
Contact: John Campbell 434.220.9070 or 434.989.0665                                        VDOF 12035

Wildfires Burning on 19,717 Acres in Virginia

Five large wildfires and several small ones are burning more than 19,700 acres across the Commonwealth today.  While most of the large fires are on National Forest System land, the Virginia Department of Forestry, USFS, National Park Service along with numerous volunteer fire departments are out in force battling the blazes to protect lives and property.  They are being aided by federal resources from 22 other states (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia).

Several Virginia state agencies, including the Departments of Emergency Management, State Police, Transportation and Fire Programs, continue to support the efforts. 

A combination of high winds, low humidity and no precipitation enabled the wildfires to grow and spread quickly.  Many of the fires are on steep, rocky terrain making it difficult for firefighters to reach the flames.

The Shipwreck Fire in Page County has already burned more than 5,000 acres and spans more than 5.5 miles in length – nearly the entire length of First Mountain.  Firefighters working this wildland fire have protected more than 125 homes and other structures thus far.  Several roads and trails are closed.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.    
Ten structures are threatened in the Barbours Creek Fire burning in Alleghany and Craig counties.  More than 2,685 acres have burned thus far, and the fire is 30 percent contained.

The Alleghany Tunnels Fire is burning in a remote location 10 miles west of Covington in Alleghany County.  A total of 7,656 acres have burned, and Forest Roads 69 and 345 are closed.  Smoke is visible on I-64, SR 311 and SR 59.  The fire was reported Saturday and cause has not been determined.  Ten structures have been protected.
The Wolf Gap Fire in Shenandoah County has burned approximately 650 acres primarily on national forest in the Wolf Gap area.  Numerous roads and trails have been closed.  Firefighters are working to protect the Wolf Gap Campground.  Driving visibility in area is limited due to smoke.  The fire was detected Sunday afternoon and the cause is undetermined. 
The Rich Hole Fire (17 miles east of Covington) has burned 3,669 acres and is threatening 10 structures.   Approximately 80 percent of the fire is burning in the Rich Hole Wilderness Area.  The fire is burning on private land and National Forest System land.  The fire was reported Monday at 7 p.m. and the cause is under investigation.
Several smaller fires are burning in several counties across Virginia.  The statewide 4 p.m. Burn Law – which restricts burning until after 4 p.m. each day – is in effect until April 30th.  Several counties, including Caroline, Highland and Rockbridge, have enacted 24-hour burn bans that remain in effect until further notice.  Forestry officials are asking all Virginians not to burn for the next several days and to keep their cigarette butts in their vehicles.

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 citizen service and public safety protection across 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. 
-end-

Easter Complex Map

Red Flag warnings lifted Fire Danger continues

Map Virginia fires 4-11-2012
Map of fires in Virginia April 11, 2012
Updated at 4:33 p.m. MT, April 11, 2012; original article: 10:54 a.m. MT
Interstate 64 in western Virginia was closed in two places for 20 hours due to wildfires on Tuesday and Wednesday. It reopened around 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Large fires are burning in the counties of Alleghany, Craig, Bath, Rickbridge, Page, Rockhingham, Shenandoah, and Stafford. Just across the state line in West Virginia there are other large fires in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.
A heat-detecting satellite produced the data on the map above that shows the Virginia fires in the counties of Alleghany, Craig, Bath, and Rockbridge, as well as one fire in West Virginia. The white line running generally north and south is the state line between West Virginia and Virginia.
Mike Quesinberry’s Southern Area Blue Type 1 Incident Management Team is managing five fires that make up the Easter Complex north of Roanoke. Three of those fires are Barbours Creek (1,200 a.), Shipwreck (4,750 a.), and Alleghany Tunnels (6,000 a.). The Shipwreck fire in Page and Rockingham counties is just west of Shenandoah, Virginia. On Tuesday the weather was fairly conducive to fire spread. The relative humidity dropped to 8 percent but the wind speed was 2 to 5 MPH with gusts at 8 to 15. The temperature Tuesday night dropped into the mid-30s, and as of 6:07 p.m. EDT on Wednesday at the Craig Valley weather station it was 45 degrees, the RH was 34%, and the wind was northwest at 3 mph.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

3rd straight day with RED FLAG WARNINGS, DOF News Release Video clips and Pictures


URGENT - FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
359 AM EDT WED APR 11 2012

...CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS CONTINUE TODAY...

.THE COMBINATION OF GUSTY WINDS BEHIND A PASSING COLD FRONT...LOW
HUMIDITY LEVELS AND DRY FUELS WILL AGAIN MAKE FOR VERY HIGH FIRE
DANGER THIS AFTERNOON.


...RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 8 PM EDT THIS
EVENING FOR THE COMBINATION OF GUSTY WINDS...LOW RELATIVE
HUMIDITIES...AND DRY FUELS...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS ISSUED A RED FLAG
WARNING FOR CRITICAL FIRE CONDITIONS...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM
NOON TODAY TO 8 PM EDT THIS EVENING.

* WINDS...NORTHWEST 10 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.

* TIMING...NOON THROUGH 8 PM.

* RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AS LOW AS AROUND 20 PERCENT.

* TEMPERATURES...IN THE UPPER 40S TO LOWER 50S.

* IMPACTS...LIMITED RECENT RAINFALL HAS RESULTED IN DRY FUELS
  ACROSS THE REGION. RELATIVE HUMIDITY AND WIND SPEEDS WILL BE
  NEAR OR ABOVE CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER THRESHOLDS FOR A RED FLAG
  WARNING THIS AFTERNOON INTO EARLY THIS EVENING...CREATING
  DANGEROUS FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS. GUSTY WINDS CAN RESULT IN
  ERRATIC FIRE WEATHER BEHAVIOR.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS
ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW...OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF
STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL
CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.




News Release
 
For Immediate Release                                                                                                April 10, 2012
Contact: John Campbell 434.220.9070 or 434.989.0665                                            VDOF 12031

Wildfires Burning 7,000 Acres in Virginia

Five large wildfires and many more small ones are burning more than 7,000 acres across the Commonwealth today.  While the bulk of the large fires are on US Forest Service land, the Virginia Department of Forestry, USFS, National Park Service along with numerous volunteer fire departments are out in force battling the blazes to protect lives and property.

“We’ve seen a tremendous uptick in fire activity today,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection.  “It would be fair to say that all 180 of our wildland firefighters are involved in suppression efforts today, and resources are at or near capacity.”

A combination of high winds, low humidity and no precipitation has enabled the wildfires to grow and spread quickly.  Many of the fires are on steep, rocky terrain making it difficult for firefighters to reach the flames.

The Shipwreck Fire in Page County has already burned more than 1,850 acres and has the potential to reach 3,000 acres before it is controlled.  Firefighters working this wildland fire have protected 125 homes and other structures thus far.

Ten structures are threatened in the Barbers Creek Fire burning in Alleghany and Craig counties.  More than 1,500 acres have burned thus far, and the fire has the potential to reach 3,000 acres before being controlled.

The Alleghany Tunnel Fire has burned 2,500 acres and is 10 percent contained.  Ten structures have been protected.

The Wolf Gap Fire in Shenandoah County has the potential to reach 6,000 acres – it has burned 550 acres so far.

The Rich Hole Fire in Alleghany County has closed parts of I-64 in both directions.  The 400-acre blaze is threatening 10 structures.

Several smaller fires are burning in several counties across Virginia.  A Red Flag Warning for much of the Commonwealth and the 4 p.m. Burn Law – which restricts burning until after 4 p.m. each day – remain in effect.  Forestry officials are asking all Virginians not to burn for the next several days and to keep their cigarette butts in their vehicles.

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 citizen service and public safety protection across 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. 
-end-



The following video and some pictures were obtained from various news stories being run accross Virginia. The Department of Forestry is very greatful for the support and coverage being provided. It is only with awarness and education during times like this that we can hope to reduce the number of human caused wildfires. THANKS to all reporters and camera folks and support personnel involved.
Smokey Bear





video


A fire threat has been issued for Sunday night. High winds and dry brush are fueling wildfires across central Virginia.
In Fluvanna County a pair of buzzards got zapped by power lines, fell to the ground and ignited a brush fire that quickly spread to two acres. The fire shut down Route 6 near Central Plains Road for almost four hours.
And in Schuyler, seven trucks from the Scottsville and Farber's Fire Department rushed to the end of Firefly Court around 6 p.m. to put out a brushfire. Flames stretched over 4 to 5 acres of land.
The fire was ignited by a property owner who a started small brush fire to clear land for a potential house site. Wind and dry leaves caused the flames to spread rapidly.
Timmy Ceresley of the Scottsville Volunteer Fire Department said, "Once we get the line around it, with the tractor in place, we'll go back through working any hot spots looking for anything that could potentially set fire across the line."


video


A wildfire has forced a stretch of Interstate 64 to be closed in Alleghany and Rockbridge counties.
Virginia highways officials say I-64 was closed in both directions Tuesday from exit 29 near Nicelytown to exit 50 near Lexington and Kerrs Creek.
Eastbound traffic on I-64 is being rerouted near Clifton Forge and Iron Gate on to Route 220. Westbound traffic from I-81 headed to I-64 is being detoured at exit 150 onto Route 220.