Home Lack of rain fueling wildfires throughout Virginia; all outdoor burning should be delayed

Lack of rain fueling wildfires throughout Virginia; all outdoor burning should be delayed

Crystal Graham
Millers Head Fire
Millers Head fire/Shenandoah National Park/File Photo

The Virginia Department of Forestry continues to battle several wildfires in central and southwest Virginia. The largest fire remains in Madison County with several fires confirmed in the western region of the state.

A cold front is expected to move through Virginia today that will likely bring rapidly changing conditions and the potential for fire spread. Near drought conditions, low humidity, high winds and warm temperatures all combine to produce conditions favorable for the spread of existing fires and the start of new ones.

Conditions are expected to improve with additional cloud cover and higher humidity on Friday. However, very little rain is in the forecast.

The State of Emergency declaration made earlier this week in Virginia ensures DOF has access to all necessary resources to ensure containment of the fire. DOF continues to work closely with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia National Guard, National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, local fire and emergency services and law enforcement.

Although Virginia is experiencing a typical fire season, extreme drought conditions and large quantities of fuel on the ground including dry grasses, leaves and tree debris continue to feed the fire. The treacherous terrain in the area also complicates response efforts.

The public is urged to delay all outdoor burning.

“We are receiving questions from the public on how they can help,” said Chief of Fire and Emergency Response John Miller. “You can help firefighters by delaying all outdoor burning until conditions improve. With Virginia’s extremely dry weather, the situation is very dangerous for wildfires to spark and spread right now.”

Quaker Run and Western fires

In total more than 200 personnel are currently responding to the Quaker Run fire. The fire is now 3,700 acres, with 40 percent containment. VNG helicopter crews continue to drop water to cool the fire and slow its progress. Crews will perform additional firing operations and helicopter runs today, as conditions allow.

In the western region, DOF is currently working on 22 additional fires covering a combined area of 4,400 acres.

George Washington and Jefferson National Forest fire restrictions

The USDA Forest Service is implementing a Stage 1 fire restriction on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest to maintain public safety and protect forest resources during drought.

Visitors igniting and maintaining campfires within developed recreation sites should use caution and make sure that all campfires are fully extinguished before leaving their site.

Campfires should not be left unattended.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.