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Forestry officials investigating two SW Va. wildfires

Wes Bunch • Feb 27, 2014 at 7:16 AM

GATE CITY — The Virginia Department of Forestry is investigating two wildfires that have burned a total of 150 acres so far this week in sections of Scott and Lee counties.

William Miller, VDOF senior area forester, said the first blaze began Monday off Copper Creek Road in Scott County’s Manville community, roughly five miles north of Gate City.

The fire climbed quickly up the side of the mountain, Miller said, claiming approximately 70 acres before it could be contained by VDOF crews members and volunteer firefighters.

“It’s controlled, but we’re not considering it out yet because they’re calling for very high winds (today),” Miller said. “We’ll continue to monitor it until we feel it’s out or until we can get enough precipitation to put it out.”

The Manville fire’s location threatened several nearby homes and structures. Miller said none were impacted by the flames.

The second fire began late Monday night off Hickory Hill Road in Lee County’s Blackwater community. Miller said that blaze covered 80 acres on a ridge that encompasses both a wooded area and a buffalo grass field.

Firefighters were still on the scene of that fire Wednesday evening attempting to maintain control of it, Miller said. “We actually still have a crew down there now doing some more work on it,” he said. “It’s not actively burning, but it’s not fully out yet.”

Miller said several structures in the Blackwater community had to be protected from the wildfire as a precaution.

The cause of both wildfires is currently under investigation. Miller said the Scott County fire began during the state’s pre-4 p.m. burning ban.

In addition to those blazes, forestry crews battled a 20-acre wildfire that began Tuesday afternoon on Route 71 in Porter Hollow in Russell County. VDOF said the fire was located roughly five miles north of the Scott County line and was still being brought under control Wednesday.

The cause of that fire is under investigation. One home had to be protected by fire crews.

The blaze is expected to be completely out by today. Authorities said there is no reason to believe arson played a role.

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