October 26, 2010
A forest fire in the George Washington National Forest in Page County tripled in size on Monday. As of Monday night, it was still not under control.
Forest crews say the fire is burning 300 acres just northwest of the town of Shenandoah. Crews have closed a service road and a Massanutten Mountain trail.
Forest officials say there are no structures threatened. Forty-three firefighters have been assigned to battle the flames.
The cause of the fire has not been determined.
The U.S. Forest Service says they got calls about the fire around 5:30 a.m. Sunday, and were out until dark that night. So far, it's estimated to be 100 acres in size and growing.
Elwood Burge is an agency administrator for the U.S. Forest Service. He says this time of year is the peak fire danger season for those in the forestry field.
"It's just crunch, crunch, crunch, it's really dry, and it definitely will burn right now," says Burge.
Burge says they've been anticipating fires, so they had actually brought it smoke jumper crews from other states. But even with 20 firefighters in the forest Sunday, he says it's a difficult battle.
"Just the nature of the terrain. It was really hard to access this fire, even walking is extremely difficult in that area," says Burge.
Tom Ledbetter is the fire management officer for this fire. He says he hopes the fire is at least contained within a week.
"We've still got the leaves on the trees, and these leaves will be falling another week or two, and as long as they're falling they'll find hot embers on the ground and that will want to burn, so we'll be out here for probably two to three weeks dealing with this fire," says Ledbetter.
Burge says they have a larger contain area for the fire, and he's pretty confident they can keep it within that range. Crews are using existing roads and creating hand lines to help contain the fire.