Fire crews still fighting flames in Rockbridge County

1,600 acres consumed by fire

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. – UPDATE: Crews say the Rockbridge and Augusta County fire is now 45% contained.

They say firefighters are gaining control of the flames both due to firefighting efforts and the rain.

Over 130 firefighters are still on scene.

The Virginia Department of Forestry says the fire didn't increase in size today.



UPDATE: Fire crews say the overnight rains didn't effect firefighting efforts much.

And with this afternoon's forecast of 60% chance of rain, it could help crews out.

But won't put the fire out entirely.

Fire crews added that no evacuations are currently in place, or being considered.



UPDATE: Approximately 1,608 acres have burned according to the U.S. Forestry service. A large increase in acreage happened on Saturday.

The fire is currently 10 percent contained. There are no injuries or damage to structures at this time. 
The cause of this fire was a vehicle fire on VA Hwy 56, that quickly spread northeast onto National Forest lands and nearby private lands. The fire was first reported at approximately 5:45 PM on Thursday.

Approximately 127 firefighters and support staff including 5 hand crews, 5 wildland engines, 2 dozers, and 1 helicopter are assigned to this incident. These resources are from throughout Virginia and several others states. 


UPDATE: Crews say Tye River Road has been re-opened between Vesuvius and the Blue Ridge Parkway as fire activity has slowed.


Even as crews fought the flames for another full day Saturday, they were unable to control the fire that has already consumed 1,000 acres.

Area forester Karen Stanley, of Rockbridge County, believes the cooler temperatures are lowering the fire's intensity.

“We're using that to our advantage to use this change in the weather as much as possible,” Stanley said.

Russell Proctor, of the Virginia Department of Forestry, said one of the biggest challenges has been the terrain.

"We got a lot of steep and rocky terrain. The wind conditions and the heat we've had in the past few days has been a challenge,” Proctor said. 

Stanley said some rain could help to contain the fire but said there are risks if there's too much. 

"If we get thunderstorms, they won't be helpful to the safety of the firefighters. We don't want lightning to be on the mountain anywhere near where the firefighters are working,” Stanley said.

Stanley said local residents will continue to see and smell smoke for several days, and the fire will likely continue to burn even after rain. 

About the Authors: