Local wildfire risk leads to burn bans in Southwest Virginia

VIRGINIA – Fires have been popping up all throughout Southwest Virginia, and a big reason is the weather.

From Thaxton to the New River Valley, multiple agencies have been fighting the flames. While most are contained, the Quaker Run wildfire in Madison County near Shenandoah National Park is growing. It’s scorched thousands of acres, forcing some evacuations.

While the terrain can be challenging in the mountains, the biggest obstacle is the weather.

“We are having some drier weather also mixed with the cold front that moved in, helped dry some things out. We are having a lot more wind, especially in the afternoons and evenings that’s helping these fires grow and giving some more wind-driven action,” Leo George III, Fire Marshal in Bedford County said.

Your Local Weather Authority is also keeping an eye on the forecast.

“Well, we are coming off the driest October since the year 2000 and it’s currently the driest year since 2008,” Parker Beasley, 10 News Meteorologist said. “Right now, we are dealing with drought conditions. We have a severe drought for parts of the highlands, parts of Lynchburg, a lot of the state is dry as well, and right here in Roanoke we are dealing with moderate drought too.”

While it’s common during the spring season, multiple burn bans are now underway. Floyd, Montgomery, and Rockbridge counties are among those taking action due to the high risk of fires. But the Bedford County Fire Marshal said right now they won’t be putting an ordinance in place.

“At this point, we don’t see that need,” George said. “If we had very very dry weather and a lot of wind and high winds, we may go ahead and think of something like that. It’s something that’s constantly on our mind. Currently, we don’t have any plans to institute a burn ban, we just ask that everybody is doing everything they can to stay as safe as possible.”

98 percent of these fires are accidental, so if you’re planning an outdoor burn for leaves or other debris take precautions.

“The biggest thing is early activation of the 911 alert system, let us know so we can start heading that way in a timely manner. If you are able to assist and control or get a garden hose or a bucket to control that fire, we ask you to please help as much as possible,” George said.

About the Author:

Kelly Marsh joined the team in July 2023.