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Update: Rocky Mount Fire Grows to 5,600 Acres

Posted: Updated: May 03, 2016 01:23 PM
Wildfire photo courtesy of Samantha Sturm Cooper Wildfire photo courtesy of Samantha Sturm Cooper
Wildfire photo courtesy of ZacharyWilson Wildfire photo courtesy of ZacharyWilson
Wildfire photo courtesy of TJ Wood Wildfire photo courtesy of TJ Wood

The Rocky Mount fire has now consumed more than 5,600 acres of forest in Shenandoah National Park. This is the fifth day of the blaze and it is showing no signs of slowing down.

The fire is now classified as a Type 1 fire, the highest designation possible.

Hotshot Teams, highly trained firefighting teams from across the country, are fighting to contain the blaze. About 300 people, both firefighters and administrative personnel, are working on the firefighting operations.

On Wednesday, NBC29 got a look at the fire from a plane just outside of the Temporary Flight Restriction Zone (TFR). The TFR Zone is an area of restricted airspace to allow room for the five firefighting helicopters and two fixed wing air tankers to dump water on the fire.

Troy Floyd is the operations section chief at the Fire Command Center, Floyd is from Georgia and is part of the Red Team that was called in.

“Significant spread to the south where we're actively working along Skyline Drive. Crews are trying to hold Skyline Drive and keep it pinched within the national park boundaries,” said Floyd.

Floyd says the fire has been growing about 1,000 acres a day. With strong winds and no sign of rain in the forecast, he believes it will only get worse.

"We're getting large fire growth, especially on the ridges where it reaches receptive fuels and it's been growing at a pretty progressive rate," Floyd added. 

The National Park Service suspects the fire was started by humans because there was no lightning around the time the fire started.

While the official cause is still under investigation, the park service says there is no connection to the hiker missing in another section of the park.

Press Release from Southern Area Incident Management: 

Current Status:

The Southern Area Incident Management (Red) Team joined unified command today with the Shenandoah National Park and the Virginia Department of Forestry on the Rocky Mtn Fire 2016 burning in the Shenandoah National Park.

The fire is suspected to be human caused, but remains under investigation. Late yesterday afternoon, the Rocky Mtn Fire had an 80-100 acre slop-over on the east side of Skyline Drive near mile marker 76.

Since yesterday, the total fire acres have grown to approximately 5,600. A firing operation was conducted yesterday to burn vegetation near the Beldor Hollow Community to help contain the fire to that area.

Crews are confident that the fire will hold at Beldor Hollow Rd. The fire progressed south near Brown Mountain Trail and was active overnight near 2 Mile Run Lane. The Virginia Department of Forestry crews monitored the area overnight.

Fire crews are providing structure protection near 2 Mile Run and Lam Hollow communities. The weather remains dry today; however, a cold front is expected to bring a chance of rain on Friday. The fire is burning in mountain laurel, pine, and oak forests with heavy leaf litter.

Planned Events:

Today crews are actively suppressing the slop-over in the area of Skyline Drive. Crews continue to hold the containment line at Beldor Hollow Rd. and are mopping up in that area.

Crews are working to complete a handline to tie into the dozer line for containment along the western park boundary.

Priorities are structure protection and containing the fire within the boundaries of the park, west of Skyline Drive, east of 2 Mile Run community, and west of Beldor Hollow fire road to minimize impacts to private lands. 

Closures:

  • Appalachian Trail is closed from Doyles River Overlook (mile 82) to Powell Gap (mile 70)
  • Rockytop Trail
  • Rocky Mount Trail
  • Big Run Loop
  • Gap Run Trail
  • Austin Mountain Trail
  • Onemile Run Trail
  • Lewis Peak Trail 
  • Brown Mountain Trail
  • Patterson Ridge Trail
  • Big Run Portal Trail
  • Madison Run Spur 
  • Rocky Mountain Run Trail
  • Madison Run Fire Road

Personnel: 248

Equipment:: 2 Type 2 Helicopters, 2 Type 3 Helicopters, 6 engines, 2 fixed wing air tankers

Cooperators: National Park Service, Virginia Department of Forestry, Rockingham County Department of Fire and Rescue, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Grottoes Volunteer Fire Department.

Fire Weather: Dry cold front moved through the area last night bringing a wind shift out of the easterly direction.  Smoke may drift over the Shenandoah Valley.  Mostly sunny with high temperature around 66°F and lows in the mid-40s °F. Relative humidity is 21-26%. Easterly winds are expected today at 3-5 mph.

Map of Rocky Mtn. Fire: (courtesy of National Park Service) 

  • Update: Rocky Mount Fire Grows to 5,600 AcresMore>>

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