Forestry officials warn of fire dangers in dry conditions

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - A 20 acre brush fire is still smoldering in Prince George County. The fire broke out in a wooded area behind a house off Covy Rise Lane.

Low humidity and wind fueled the flames. Investigators are looking at dumped trash as a possible cause. They hope to talk to a homeowner about it Wednesday morning.

It's been a dry, hot summer  and conditions are now ripe for disaster.

"95 degree temperatures, low humidity, wind; it's just kind of been building all summer," said Jim Blackwell with the Virginia Forestry Department.

Case in point, a fast moving brush fire charred about 20 acres. The flames got within 50 feet of a house. NBC12 photographer Jamie Rife pointed out to investigators dumped trash as a possible cause.

"The fire was burning in that direction," said Blackwell as he surveyed the fire line.

Investigators have not said whether the trash was the culprit, but closely inspected a burn barrel nearby. Blackwell urges people to take the necessary precautions when burning trash.

"If people burn trash in a barrel we would like to have a good screen wire mesh on top of the barrel so embers won't blow out," said Blackwell.

Make sure the debris is cold to the touch or wet before dumping. Rodney Tolley says he wouldn't chance it on his property.

"We don't burn because of that. It's been so dry, it's starting to get real windy, and I think it's best not to burn right now," said Tolley.

At one point, he thought this brush fire was coming for his house and horses. He got a frantic warning call from a neighbor.

"All we knew it was coming around coming towards our area," said Tolley.

The brush fire is contained, but still a concern for firefighters and the Forestry Department. Tolley says they won't be the only ones keeping watch.

"We'll definitely keep an eye out too," said Tolley.

The cause of that brush fire remains under investigation. Forestry and fire crews will return to the fire scene Wednesday morning and over the next several days to make sure it doesn't rekindle. 

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