Amherst forest fire burns more than 4,600 acres

(Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

AMHERST COUNTY (WSLS 10) - A wildfire in Amherst County expanded to more than 4,600 acres Tuesday night.

The U.S. Forestry Department met with people living in the Lowesville area to explain the plan to try and stop it.

"It's coming down the mountain right in front of us," said Harry Gilpin, Who was one of hundreds Tuesday night packed into Central Baptist Church, worried about a line of fire he can see approaching through his window.

"I've spent the last three years building this house, and to have a chance for it to just go up in flames, I mean it's kind of concerning," said Gilpin.

"The fire this afternoon is about 4,600 acres and we still don't have any estimate on containment," said Steve Counts, with the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Counts says he understands people's concerns, but because of dry conditions, it's tough to bring them good news.

"There's no water in the streams, and it's a place that we would normally use to cut a fire off and we don't have that," said Counts.

To make things worse, Gilpin says his wife recently just broke her leg.

"She's sitting in the house now in a wheelchair, and so I've got to decide when am I going to get her out and am I going to stay there and fight this fire if it comes down, all the way down the mountain?" said Gilpin.

Counts says firefighters are working around the clock, but if the fire doesn't stop, evacuations could be necessary.

"You always have a chance of us losing the containment line just based on high winds," said Counts.

Gilpin shared the feeling of many Tuesday in hoping it doesn't come to that.

"I'm hoping to see them get some more resources in here and get this fire out," said Gilpin.

Fire crews say they do have enough equipment, but just because of dry conditions, it could be weeks before the fire finally gets put out.