Dry weather helping fuel wildfires

By Nicole Bell - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) – A brush fire scorches several acres, and destroys an abandoned home, and a boat. It all started just after ten o'clock this morning on Ellington Road in Dinwiddie County.

It took firefighters nearly a half hour to get the upper hand on the blaze. The Department of Forestry says the dry weather made fighting the fire tough.

"Right now pretty much anything can cause a fire. A lawnmower, bush hog behind a tractor, an electric fence if a limb falls on it -- anything like that because of the dry conditions," said Tommy Nunnally.

The department is encouraging everyone to use extreme caution when burning trash, leaves or other debris.

"Flicking a cigarette out on the grass along the highway catches fire and could lead to something a lot bigger," said Nunnally.

That's expected to be the cause of an afternoon fire on the median of I-95 near the Ashland exit. Right now, the index the department uses to determine the risk for fire danger is three times higher than what it should be.

"If it's at 700 that means it's 7 inches down into the ground there's no moisture. So, it's dry. It's so dry it's hard to get this plow in you got to hold down the pressure to get it into the ground," said Zach Dowling.

The brush fire in Dinwiddie County spread quickly. Crews bulldozed fire lines to keep the blaze under control. Three acres were torched. The flames devoured a trailer home and a boat.

"The fire intensity is just so much more dramatic. You don't any moisture to keep the fire behavior down, so we're seeing increased fire behavior just because of this drought we're in," said Dowling.

For now, the department says it expects to be busy until wet weather arrives. The cause of that Dinwiddie fire is under investigation. Firefighters say they'll monitor the sight into the evening to help avoid flare ups.

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