Release from United States Department of Agriculture:
Natural Bridge, Va. – 11/21/2016 - The USDA Forest Service is working with the Virginia Department of Forestry to contain a wildfire burning on the George Washington National Forest and private land in and around the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area in Amherst County.
The fire is estimated to be 1,200 acres in size. Strong winds and low humidity contributed to the rapid spread of the fire on Sunday. The fire is located north of Thrashers Creek.
Firefighters are building hand and dozer lines to contain the fire, and a helicopter is dropping water with the priority on areas south of the fire where structures are threatened. Approximately 70 firefighters and support staff including two wildland engines, a dozer and two aircraft are assigned to this incident with additional resources being mobilized.
Thrasher’s Creek Road (SR) 617 is closed at Molly’s Mountain due to firefighting activities. Local traffic will be permitted.
As a result of the fire the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area is closed to public entry including the following roads and trails:
- Hog Camp Gap Road (FR #48) from Hog Camp Gap to Salt Log Gap
- North Fork of Buffalo Road (FR #51)
- Coon Bridge Road (FR #1167)
- Appalachian Trail (FT #1) from Long Mountain Wayside to Salt Pond Gap
- Old Hotel Trail (FT #515)
- Henry Lanum Trail (FT #702)
- Mt. Pleasant Trail (FT #704)
- and trailheads associated with these trails.
The fire was discovered on Saturday evening. The cause is under investigation.
There is currently a fire ban on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests to maintain public safety and protect forest resources during extreme drought. Building, maintaining, or using a fire, campfire or stove fire is prohibited on National Forest lands outside of developed recreation areas. For more information regarding the fire ban contact your local Ranger District office or visit the forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/gwj.