Home State of emergency: Albemarle County responds to 19 brush fires, 3X number of calls
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State of emergency: Albemarle County responds to 19 brush fires, 3X number of calls

Crystal Graham
fire response albemarle county march 2024
Submitted

Albemarle County career and volunteer fire units have been busy over the last two days responding to 19 brush fires across the county.

In addition to the brush fires, 49 fire rescue calls for service were received during the same time period. This is three times the typical average number of dispatches the area receives. These calls included downed trees, downed power lines, motor vehicle crashes and emergency medical services.

Three of the brush fires evolved into major incidents lasting overnight.

There have been no reported injuries in the three fires.

Taylors Gap Road: 250 acres (50 percent contained)

  • Call received at 1:23 p.m. on Wednesday
  • The first fire suppression apparatus arrived within nine minutes of dispatch.
  • This brush fire impacted approximately 250 acres.
  • As of Thursday afternoon, the fire is 50 percent contained.
  • Two outbuildings are being considered total losses. No residential structures have been impacted at this time, and an estimated 15-20 residential structures have been successfully saved.
  • The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.

At 5:23 p.m. Wednesday, an evacuation alert was issued to addresses on Taylors Gap and the side roads between Dick Woods (east) and Blandemar Road. The evacuation order was lifted at approximately 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Blackberry Hill: 20 acres (fire contained)

  • Call received at 1:40 p.m. on Wednesday
  • The first fire suppression apparatus arrived 35 minutes after dispatch.
  • This brush fire impacted approximately 20 acres.
  • Crews successfully contained the fire at approximately 7:37 p.m.
  • One shed is being considered a total loss.
  • The cause of this brush fire was determined to be an open-air burn violation.

Piney Mountain: 180 acres (fire contained)

  • Call received at 3:04 pm on Wednesday
  • The first fire suppression unit arrived within 12 minutes of dispatch.
  • The brush fire impacted approximately 180 acres.
  • No residential structures were impacted, but one shed is being considered a total loss.
  • Crews successfully contained the fire at 1:59 a.m. this morning.
  • The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time.

Fire units will remain on scene for an undetermined length of time to continue to monitor these locations.

Albemarle County Fire-Rescue requested statewide mutual aid and received personnel and equipment from the Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, American Red Cross, Cumberland County, Amelia County, Pulaski County and Carrollton.

The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors issued a Declaration of Local Emergency, on Wednesday at approximately 5:30 p.m., in response to the local brush fires in the area.

A local declaration allows the community to access resources during a public safety emergency. The declaration remains in effect.

During this time, the community is encouraged to:

  • Report any active fire to 911.
  • Do not burn.
  • Protect yourself from smoky conditions by remaining indoors or wearing a mask or scarf while outside.
  • Sign up to receive CUA 911 Alerts for your location. Residents and guests to the Charlottesville-Albemarle area can sign up for free by: creating an online profile at www.cua911.gov/alerts, downloading the Smart911 app, or texting ALBEMARLE to 226787.

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.