Wildfires Damage More Virginia Homes in 2007

January 8, 2008

The Virginia Department of Forestry said 1,509 wildland fires burned more than 11,000 acres of forest land in 2007. That number is up 16 percent over 2006.

Last year there were 20 homes damaged by wildland fires, an increase of 43 percent from 2006 when 14 homes were damaged.

Even though the number of fires increased, the amount of acres dropped by 19 percent.

"This is due, in large part, to the Agency's prompt initial attack strategy, which is designed to limit the spread of wildland fires," said John Miller, director of resource protection for the Department of Forestry.

The Department of Forestry said as the population continues to grow, more and more people are moving into traditionally wooded areas. With more people and more homes to protect, the nature of wildland firefighting has changed and become more difficult to battle wildland fires.

The most wildland fires in 2007 occurred in 23-county-region that covers central and northern Virginia. That area, which covers Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, and Orange counties, dealt with 368 fires.

More than 94 percent of last year's wildland fires were caused by humans. The biggest cause was from people burning yard debris or trash. More than 15 percent of the fires were arson.

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