Monday, February 14, 2011

Brush fires burn across Western Virginia

Fires burned through more than 200 acres of forest and brush from Craig to Botetourt and  Montgomery counties today, one of this winter’s driest and windiest days.

The National Weather Service issued a warning for conditions prone to explosive fire growth potential from Craig County southwest to Pulaski County, and in Bedford  and Franklin counties. Gusts blew up to 40 miles per hour in some areas and humidity was as low as 15 percent, the weather service reported.

No injuries were reported. It was a rash of incidents that preceded the Virginia Department of Forestry’s spring fire season, which runs from Feb. 15 to April 15. State law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. during this period. As of Monday, precipitation in the region was more than 5 inches below normal for the season.

The largest blaze tore through about 200 acres about two miles north of  New Castle in Craig County, said Barbara Walker, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

In Montgomery County, sheriff’s deputies closed a road in the rural community of Pilot while firefighters put out a blaze there.

In Botetourt County, firefighters put out a brush fire west of Fincastle that apparently started when gusts fanned embers from a weekend fire into a pile of brush, according to the Fincastle Volunteer Fire Department.

In Giles County, volunteer firefighters were called about 12:30 p.m. to a half-acre fire that burned in a field  in the 1900 block of Walkers Creek Valley Road,  Poplar Hill Fire Department Chief Todd Jones  said.

In Roanoke, firefighters put out three brush fires and two mulch fires over the weekend,  Roanoke Fire-EMS spokeswoman Tiffany Bradbury said. In Roanoke County, firefighters were on alert because of the low humidity and windy conditions.

Staff writers Cathy Benson and Kevin Myatt contributed to this report.

Weather Journal

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