Home Wildland firefighters make significant progress on Short Hills Fire

Wildland firefighters make significant progress on Short Hills Fire


forestry12Crews battling the Short Hills Fire in Botetourt County have made significant progress in the suppression effort.  Firefighters using hand tools on the steep and rocky terrain have constructed a ¼-mile-long line between the fire and unburned areas on the mountain.  In addition, firefighters have used tractors with fireplows (bulldozers) to build another 6.5 miles of line around the wildfire, which ignited Monday afternoon.  Yesterday’s and last night’s back-burn was aided by lower winds, cooler temperatures and a bit more humidity.

“The fire has burned more than 780 acres and is 70 percent contained,” said John Miller, VDOF’s director of resource protection.  “By the time the fire is completely out, we expect it will have burned just over 1,300 acres.”

Officials have said the cause of the fire was due to someone improperly disposing hot ashes.  Ashes from fireplaces and wood stoves can remain hot enough to ignite a fire for several days.  The ashes should be placed in a metal can, doused with water, stirred and covered.  Water should be added in and the ashes stirred each day for several days before being removed from the metal container.  Only when they are completely cold to the touch should the ashes be dumped.  (We recommend they be spread in a garden or on a stone driveway with sufficient distance so as to not be able to directly spread to dry grass or woodlands.)

Twenty-five wildland firefighters attacked the fire last night and there are 42 more there today working to extinguish this blaze.  In addition to several types of wildland fire hand tools, crews are using five fireplows (bulldozers) and a helicopter to battle the fire.

While the Short Hills Fire is the largest wildfire burning right now, it’s not the only one.  More than 50 other wildfires have broken out across the state this week and have been suppressed by crews from VDOF and area volunteer fire departments.

Spring wildfire season (Feb. 15 to April 30) is in full swing now, and officials at the VDOF remind everyone that outdoor burning is allowed only between 4 p.m. and midnight.  Miller said, “However, when the winds are gusting, the temperatures elevated and the humidity levels low, we urge you to NOT burn even after 4 p.m.”

For information and tips about wildfire safety and the proper disposal of hot ashes, please visit www.dof.virginia.gov  or  www.dof.virginia.gov/fire/safety/index.htm



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