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Crews battling Jefferson National Forest fire aided by cool, cloudy weather

Fire has been burning since Friday morning

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – A forest fire burning next to the James River in Bedford County is still smoking, but United States Forest Service crews are now having an easier time containing it.

The nearly five-acre fire in the Jefferson National Forest, which the U.S. Forest Service has dubbed the "Cliff Fire," intensified Friday morning and has been active ever since.

"This has been a challenging fire due to the steepness of the terrain and the fact that it's located in the wilderness," said U.S. Forest Service firefighter Adam Christie.

The fire near Big Island is approximately 20 percent contained, and it has stayed the same size throughout the weekend. Firefighters have received a big assist from the clouds and cool air that have blanketed the area in recent days.

"It's helped us out immensely," Christie said. "Having the cloud cover and high humidity has allowed us to get in there and put good work in and not have to worry about using the helicopter to suppress the fire."

The fire closed off several trails in the area, including portions of the Appalachian Trail. However, Christie says, the crews have used the empty trails as fire lines to stop the fire from spreading further.

"We're not putting tools and chainsaws on the ground, we're using features that already exist," Christie said. "It's better for the environment and the wilderness."

There's no estimate for when the fire will be extinguished, but the Forest Service says no buildings or land outside of the forest are endangered by the blaze.

"We're confident that we're sitting in a good position and that we'll be able to up the containment level as the days progress," Christie said.