Fire crews now cleaning up in Amherst County, say fire mostly contained

By Rob Manch - Reporter

AMHERST COUNTY (WSLS 10) - The forest fire in Amherst County has now scorched more than 11,000 acres, but fire crews say they finally have more than half of it contained.

Still, a week after the Mount Pleasant fire began, there is a lot of work to do to put it out for good.

When firefighters talk about containment, they're talking about a very literal line that's only about six feet wide between the edge of the fire and forest that hasn't been burnt.

Firefighters are ensuring that land stays protected by diligently using water and tools to put out any remaining flames.

"Dirty, gritty, hands and knees, working to feel out all the hotspots and putting water on it and getting it cooled off as quickly as we can," said Incident Team member Corey Calnan.

Cooling off the fire that spanned thousands of acres and threatened 60 homes took round the clock effort from the Incident Management Team.

Calnan says the result is the best they could hope for.

"With the total number of structures that were threatened, the fact that we can walk away at this point and say that nothing was lost is, that's a pretty good deal," said Calnan.

Now says Calnan, comes the hard part: making sure nothing is left that could spread the fire again.

"This is the most important part of firefighting is to make sure that this fire is out and that we can walk away without having to worry about something restarting and taking off again," said Calnan.

In addition to putting out the ground fires, Calnan says the team has to be looking at the trees.

"The inner part of the tree is exposed and may be rotten, and fire creeps up in those, and then kind of like a chimney effect, fire just kind of runs up the center, the rotten center of the tree," said Calnan.

Calnan says the hope is that rain later this week will make their job easier, but his crew will continue to work until the job is done.

"We move forward with the mindset that, maybe there isn't going to be rain. So we're not going to count on that, we're going to put it out the way that we need to put it out, and then if we get the rain, that's just a bonus," said Calnan.

Firefighters hope to have 100 percent of the fire contained within about a week, but they said people could still expect to see some logs or stumps still on fire into December or even January of next year.

Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved