Wildfires Burn 7,000 Acres, Close Parts of I-64

April 11, 2012

Parts of Interstate 64 were reopened Wednesday while other Virginia roads remain closed because of wildfires that have burned more than 7,000 acres.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said I-64 was reopened in both directions in Alleghany and Rockbridge counties. The interstate was closed Tuesday near West Midland Trail in Rockbridge County and Clifton Forge in Alleghany County.

Route 850 remained closed near the Alleghany-Rockbridge county line. Route 770 was shut down in the vicinity of Longdale Furnace Road.

Route 723 in Albemarle County was closed in the vicinity of Old Green Mountain Road. And, Route 675 in Shenandoah County was shut down near Liberty Furnace Road. Detours were set up.

The Department of Forestry said large fires are burning in Alleghany, Craig, Page and Shenandoah counties.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Patrick Sheridan said 40 mph wind gusts caused two fires to merge and form a 6,000-acre wildfire in Alleghany County, about 10 miles west of Covington. He said the fire jumped railroad tracks and grew by more than 2,500 acres in the past day.

WSLS-TV (http://bit.ly/HC1SWf) reports dozens of firefighters, a helicopter and two bulldozers are working to build fire lines on the west and north sides of the fire, which is about 15 percent contained.

Another fire in the Rich Hole Wilderness area of Alleghany County has grown to 1,159 acres, the Forest Service said.

Crews from other states and from southwest Virginia assisted the Forest Service in fighting a fire in Rockbridge County on Wednesday.

"We've got to have them," said Robert Foresman, Rockbridge County's emergency management coordinator. "We cannot do it with what we have locally."

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