High winds, dry weather spark brush fires across metro region

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - While the wind gave us a little relief from temperatures Saturday it caused problems for firefighters all day long.

High winds, downed power lines and dry ground kept departments throughout our area constantly busy.

1:30 Saturday afternoon the Richmond fire department is called to the scene of a brush fire on Media Road near Midlothian Turnpike.

The fire scorched a backyard fence but there was no other property damage.

Less than an hour later Henrico fire responds to Mountain Road near the Virginia Randolph Complex and found heavy fire in the woods adjacent to the school.

Two acres burned, but no buildings were threatened and no one was hurt.

An hour later Chesterfield firefighters extinguish a brush fire on the 10 thousand block of River Road.

They were challenged by a fast moving blaze, which burned half an acre.

Three fires, three departments responding, one common denominator.

"The fire appears to have started from a downed power line from a tree that was blown down by the high winds," said Henrico Battalion Chief Jady Griggs.

They weren't the only three fires.

Fire crews across the metro responded to dozens of calls for downed power lines and brush fires.

"The biggest problem is simply trying to catch the fire and get in front of it," said Griggs. "When you've got 40 miles an hour gusts, the fire is often moving faster than the crews can drag the hose line to catch it."

Al Mallory watched as the smoke cleared from his neighborhood.

"What can you do," said the Henrico resident. "This was just a freak of nature so there's nothing actually that you can really do."

But firefighters disagree.

"General housekeeping would be a tremendous help," said Griggs. "Keep those leaves and sticks and dead fall from the winter cleared well away from the foundation of the house itself."

It's a small thing that could help avoid a devastating fire.

"It doesn't take much," Griggs said. "Just a spark and it will take off."

Firefighters report an influx of calls whenever we have high winds.

Interestingly, while red flag warnings were posted in Northern Virginia and Maryland Saturday, metro Richmond was not included on those advisories.

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