41ºF

As fire crews continue fighting Tye River Fire, highway 56 opens to public

Brush fire increases to at least 1,600 acres over night

ROCKBRIDGE, Va. – Over the weekend the fire acreage has increased from 1,000 to at least 1,600.

“We knew it was going up a little bit. But we wanted to get a more concrete figure to put out. It didn't jump all at one time. It went throughout the evening and into the day for that change,” Area Forester, Karen Stanley of Rockbridge County said. 

Raymond Grogan, who lives nearby, took notice.

"There was a big fog coming through the back yard. You could smell it,” Grogan said.

Stanley said the high humidity and low temperatures continue to help firefighters in their efforts to put the blaze out.

“Once the cloud cover breaks, we could see a little more in the way of smoke. People may smell more smoke, because that fire may get a little bit more active than it was,” Stanley said.

Highway 56 is now open to the public.

However, the trails in the southern half of the Saint Mary's Wilderness are still closed at this time.

“Be safe on these roads. Take extra caution, especially with our firefighters and heavy equipment in this area. That's key,” Area Forester Genny Kotyk of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest said.

The majority of the fire activity is in the wilderness area where crews are concentrating most of their efforts.

“It's all off the road. It's quite remote,” Stanley said.

While all highways are open, there will still be firefighters patrolling around private property.

“This is to make sure that nothing strange happens, and that we don't get any fuels running down these slopes,” Stanley said.

Grogan is grateful for the fire crews watching out for his safety.

“Those guys are doing a fantastic job up there,” Grogan said.