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Virginia, West Virginia, federal authorities update Shenandoah Valley wildfires

Chris Graham
rocky branch fire
Graphic: Shenandoah National Park

Officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry, West Virginia Division of Forestry and the National Park Service provided updates on Saturday from the wildfires that have been raging across Western Virginia since midweek.

First, to the Rocky Branch fire, where firefighters from the Virginia Department of Forestry and National Park Service kept the fire in check in Kemp Hollow on Friday using the established dozer line.

The Southern Area Red Complex Incident Management Team has arrived to manage the fire. They assumed command at 8 a.m. Saturday. Personnel and equipment on the fire currently include 15 firefighters and 1 engine. This does not include the Complex Incident Management Team and other personnel and equipment on the way.

Shenandoah National Park Headquarters Remote Automated Weather Station recorded 1.16 inches of rain over the last 24 hours, which has slowed the fire’s spread.

North Zone Complex fires

wildfires 3-23
Graphic: FireNet.gov

These fires covers six that are burning in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and on state and private land in West Virginia and Virginia.

  1. Waterfall Mountain/Shenandoah Forest/211 Fire (5,692 acres): On Friday, firefighters worked on the south and west sides of the fire to tie it in with a previous burn area on the northwest all the way around to Hwy. 211. On the south end of the fire, crews are working behind the homes there. The Virginia Department of Forestry is managing the east side of the fire, north and south of Hwy. 211. Residents in the area of Sundance Retreat, New Market have been asked to evacuate. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/shencosheriff.
  2. Waites Run Fire (3,760 acres): Firefighters have completed work on the east side of the fire. Today, they will continue to work on structure protection along the southwest side. Crews will scout the northeast and east sides of the fire to explore ways to pull containment lines together.
  3. Capon/Brush Run Fire (2,559 acres): Crews have surrounded the outer perimeter of the fire and are working in areas on the northside where fire has moved beyond the intended control line. Firefighters continue to look for natural barriers to establish a containment box around the fire.
  4. Edith Gap/Serenity Ridge Fire (829 acres): Firefighters are working along the southwest side to tie it in with the road system going west and south into a previous burn area. On the north side, toward Kennedy Peak, firefighters have a plan in place to continue work there. Firefighters were able to protect the Kennedy Peak observation tower.
  5. Cove Mountain Fire (75 acres): This fire is 100 percent contained. Firefighters continue to patrol and mop up.
  6. New Start at Runions Creek (9 acres): Firefighters will scout the fire today and work to contain it quickly. Firefighters have tied the Waites Run and Edith Gap/Serenity Ridge Fires into an existing fuels treatment area that has reduced the risk of fire spread.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].