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Scott County wildfire claims 115 acres

April 20th, 2014 10:18 pm by Wes Bunch

Scott County wildfire claims 115 acres

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service, the fire claimed approximately 115 acres of land on Chestnut Ridge. Contributed photo.

FORT BLACKMORE — Local, state and federal firefighters were kept busy Easter weekend battling a large wildfire that began in a remote area of Scott County near Fort Blackmore.

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service, the fire claimed approximately 115 acres of land on Chestnut Ridge off Hunters Valley West Road (Route 653) between Dungannon and Fort Blackmore.

Volunteer firefighters with the Fort Blackmore and Duffield volunteer fire departments assisted two 20-person crews that were dispatched to battle the blaze. Clinch District Ranger Jorge Hersel said two USFS fire trucks and a USFS helicopter were also utilized in the response.

Hersel said the fire is not expected to grow much larger despite dry conditions continuing for the next few days.

"We don't anticipate it growing much larger," Hersel said. "The lines we have now are up to 130 acres."

The wildfire was first reported around 2:30 p.m. Saturday on private property in the Hunters Valley area. Dry and windy conditions caused the fire to quickly spread to Jefferson National Forest land, officials said.

The cause of the fire was still under investigation Sunday evening.

Hersel said crews brought the fire under control Saturday night before returning Sunday to find it had rekindled.

"When we came back out this morning we discovered that the fire had jumped the lines from yesterday, so we've been working on those. We anticipate that we can handle the fire with the resources that we have now, however, there are some additional resources coming in Monday because most of our people are committed to this burn."

The terrain where the fire is located was described as steep and broken with thick mountain laurel and other brush. Hersel said the harsh terrain and low humidity made it more difficult for crews to fight the fire and dig control lines.

Hersel said all structures in the vicinity of the wildfire have been protected.

Because of the increased risk of additional wildfires in the coming days, Hersel said resources would be kept on hand.

"The anticipated weather forecast for the next three or four days is hot and dry," Hersel said. "Because of that, we might get more wildfires, so we want to make sure we have enough resources to make sure we can protect the area and keep it safe."

Hersel also advised residents to adhere to Virginia's fire laws if they do plan on burning debris.

"We want to reiterate that Virginia has its 4 p.m. burn ban still in effect," he said. "You can't burn before 4 p.m., and if you should burn anything please be careful." 

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