Kingsport Times News Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Local News

Crews still working to contain wildfires in Southwest Virginia

April 22nd, 2014 12:14 am by Wes Bunch

Crews still working to contain wildfires in Southwest Virginia

Southwest Virginia was a hotbed of wildfire activity over the Easter weekend, with forestry firefighters responding to multiple significant blazes in a four-county area.

According to the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), at least six significant wildfires have been reported in the counties of Buchanan, Scott, Dickenson and Russell since Saturday.

Approximately 60 structures have been threatened by the fires, VDOF officials said.

Although all six fires are still actively burning, three of them have been completely contained. Fire crews are working to contain the remaining large blazes.

"Warm temperatures, low relative humidity and strong winds combined to increase wildfire danger over the weekend in the western portion of the commonwealth," John Miller, VDOF's director of resource protection, said. "So far, these six fires have burned a total of more than 1,000 acres. Our VDOF crews have worked with a number of local fire departments to suppress these wildfires, thereby protecting the lives and property of the residents of these four counties." The 550 wildfires that have occurred so far this year already outnumber the 479 reported in all of 2013. The acres burned so far this year (8,491) cover 2.5 times more area than the 3,378 acres burned all of last year.

On Monday afternoon, VDOF and Duffield Volunteer Fire Department crews were dispatched to a 50-acre wildfire on Pendleton Chapel Road near Rye Cove. Crews used ATVs to reach the location before containing the fire Monday night. The blaze was believed to have been caused by a hunter's fire.

Another 80 acres in Scott County were burned in a fire off Hunters Valley Road West near Fort Blackmore that began Saturday. The VDOF partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to completely contain this fire. USFS reported the fire at 115 acres.

Three of the weekend's large fires began in Buchanan County. The Deel Hill Road fire near Vansant burned 200 acres and is 95 percent contained. Fifteen structures are threatened, with one home damaged and a structure lost. The Home Creek fire in Isaac's Branch Road has burned 400 acres and is 80 percent contained, while 55 acres were burned in the Guesses Fork Road fire, which has been completely contained.

In Russell County, the Sandy Ridge fire burned 300 acres and is 20 percent contained. Ten structures are threatened. In Dickenson County, the Cold Springs Road fire near Nora burned 55 acres but has been 100 percent contained. The causes of these fires are under investigation by the VDOF.

Miller reminded residents that Virginia's 4 p.m. Burn Law remains in effect through April 30.

"No open burning within 300 feet of woodland or dry grass may be conducted until after 4 p.m. each day from February 15th through April 30th each year," Miller said. "Even if someone can legally burn after 4 p.m., we recommend doing so only if the weather conditions are right."

Those conditions include high relative humidity and low winds under 10 mph.

comments powered by Disqus