Virginia Department of Forestry wildland firefighters battle fires in Southwest Virginia
ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Firefighters from across the Commonwealth are being sent to localities across Southwest Virginia to help fight a number of different wildfires.
Full release from Virginia Department of Forestry:
Virginia Department of Forestry wildland firefighters from eastern and central Virginia are being detailed to far SW Virginia this week to help battle a number of blazes burning in Buchanan, Dickinson, Lee, Wise and Scott counties, according to John Miller, director of resource protection. And more VDOF resources will be added to the suppression effort on the wildfire in Shenandoah National Park to protect lives and private property on the Park's boundary.
"We are nearing the end of spring wildfire season in Virginia, but the number and size of several wildland fires in far southwest Virginia are presenting a challenge," Miller said. "We're moving some resources from our Central and Eastern Regions to augment the folks in our Western Region who have been fighting a number of large wildfires, several of which appear to be the result of arson."
Eighteen VDOF employees drove out to Buchanan County to help with suppression and support efforts. They will be deployed until the threat subsides. One fire in Buchanan County is burning behind Hurley High School, so the school is closed today.
Woods arson is a crime, and officials with the VDOF are offering up to a $2,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible for starting these wildfires. If you have any information that will help bring the arsonist/arsonists to justice, please call the anonymous Arson Tip Line at 1.434.220.9053.
Miller reminds everyone that the state's 4PM Burning Law remains in effect through April 30th.
"Please don't burn trash or yard debris before 4 p.m.," Miller said. "If the temperatures are high, the winds are up and the humidity levels are down, we strongly recommend you not burn even after 4 p.m. on those kinds of days as the fire will likely escape your control."
In Shenandoah National Park, the Rocky Mount fire has grown to more than 2,000 acres. Additional federal wildland firefighters are joining the effort inside the Park borders, and more VDOF wildland firefighters are being added to protect the people and their property on the surrounding private lands.
People living up to 150 miles southeast of the fire have been seeing and smelling the smoke. This evening, the wind direction will change and push the smoke southwest of the fire. Winds are expected to shift again Wednesday afternoon, and the smoke will be pushed northwest of the wildfire.
"If you haven't yet smelled the smoke from the Rocky Mount fire in the Park, it's highly likely you will within the next 36 hours," Miller said. "Please call 911 only if there is a fire close by and do not if you are smelling smoke from the wildfire in Shenandoah National Park. This will ensure our firefighters are available to protect you and your neighbors if an actual wildfire were to break out near you."
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, which it's been doing now for more than 100 years. VDOF is an equal opportunity provider.
With nearly 16 million acres of forestland and more than 103,000 Virginians employed in forestry, forest products and related industries, Virginia forests provide an overall economic output of more than $17 Billion annually.
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