Crews battle brush fire on Afton Mountain

Crews are working to put out a brush fire on the slope of Afton Mountain in Nelson County.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 1:01 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 5:13 PM EST
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NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Crews are working to put out a brush fire on the slope of Afton Mountain in Nelson County.

The Virginia Department of Transportation announced around 3 p.m. Thursday, November 16, that drivers could expect delays for several miles on Interstate 64 in the area of mile marker 100. Albemarle County Fire Rescue says it was called out to scene around 12:30 p.m. for a truck fire in the westbound side of the interstate.

The fire spread to the side of the road and into the brush.

Shenandoah National Park says the biggest hazard now is the smoke.

Helicopters are being used to dump water onto the blaze.

Victor Laubach says he was bird watching when he saw the engine of a pick-up truck pulling a camper go up in flames.

“After about 20 minutes, the whole truck was engulfed in flames,” he said. “Some of the flames were spilling out onto the side of the road, and they caught some of the grass and started going up the mountainside.”

Laubach says it wasn’t long until crews put out the truck fire.

“After about 10 minutes, the first officers arrived and a fire truck came and ambulances,” he said.

However, flames were already starting to make their way up the mountainside. The Virginia Department of Forestry says the size of the fire is roughly 10 acres.

VDOT announced around 4:40 p.m. that lanes on I-64 were open, though it added, “Firefighters continue to battle a wildfire that started early this afternoon on the slope of Afton Mountain. Although all travel lanes are open on I-64 the westbound right shoulder remains closed at mile marker 100 near the top of the mountain. Firefighting equipment is staging on the highway shoulder at that location.”

This is a developing story.

Helicopters helping to fight brush fire on Afton Mountain. Video courtesy Curtis Calhoun.

11-16-2023 release from the Virginia Department of Forestry:

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA –The Virginia Department of Forestry (DOF) continues to respond to several wildfires across central and southwest Virginia. Since the start of Virginia’s fall fire season (Oct. 15 – Nov. 30), DOF has responded to 113 wildfires that have burned more than 12,000 acres. DOF suppression efforts over this period have protected 203 homes and 267 structures.DOF is also responding along with local partners to a fire on Afton Mountain in Nelson County near mile marker 100 off Interstate 64. The fire is about 10 acres in size. The cause of the fire was a vehicle fire.”We thank all of our firefighters, partner agencies, localities and community members who have pulled together as we continue to fight these wildfires,” said Chief of Fire and Emergency Response John Miller. “We need no further proof that fall fire season has arrived with a vengeance. We will remain vigilant to protect people and property.”

11-16-2023 release from the Virginia Department of Transportation:

CULPEPER — A wildfire burning on the slope of Afton Mountain is restricting traffic on Interstate 64 westbound to the left lane at mile marker 100. The right lane closure is resulting in several miles of traffic backup and significant delays.

The lane closure is expected to remain through the afternoon commute, so drivers heading west on I-64 toward the Shenandoah Valley should anticipate significant delays. Congestion and delays are also reported at exit 107 to Crozet due to vehicles exiting the interstate.

Several agencies are on the scene of the wildfire and are using the right lane and right shoulder to stage equipment to fight the fire, which is burning on the steep mountain slope just north of the interstate.

11-16-2023 release from Albemarle County Fire Rescue:

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA - At approximately 12:28 pm on Thursday, November 16, 2023, career and volunteer fire units from Albemarle County Fire Rescue responded to the report of vehicle fire on Intersate-64 at mile marker 100 in Nelson County, near Crozet. The vehicle fire extended to a brush fire up the nearby mountain. The first apparatus arrived on scene 9 minutes after dispatch.

Motorists can expect delays due to the vehicle and brush fire. Traffic backups are approximately 4 miles. The west right lane and right shoulder were closed but are now open.

The fire is still being contained with the Forestry and National Park services dispatching crews to this location.

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