UPDATE: Fire re-routes interstate travelers in New Kent

By Nicole Bell - bio | email

NEW KENT, VA (WWBT) - The cause of the brush fire on Interstate 64 Saturday has been determined to be caused by a tree falling on a power line, according to the New Kent fire chief.

Crews will be checking the area periodically for hot spots and residents will likely  see a smoke over the next day or so.

Interstate 64 at Route 295 re-opened late Saturday after being shutdown for hours because of a brush fire. High winds made it tough for firefighters to control.

The brush fire broke out between 1:00 and 2:00 Saturday afternoon in a wooded area near New Kent Highway and Interstate 64. The blaze devoured 66 acres and forced the closure of 16 miles of highway.

"The fire moved quickly and spread through the woods into an area that allowed it to jump into the interstates and also jump across 64 and 249," said New Kent County Fire Chief Tommy Hicks.

Dozens of spectators snapped shots of the growing glow.

"It's unexpected around here because normally it's pretty quiet," said county resident Larry Ragsdale. "We don't have anything this exciting going on in New Kent."

Several businesses had to be evacuated for safety reasons. Ragsdale owns a Verizon store near the fire.

"We just prepared to move the more expensive stuff out of the store in case we had to leave," he said.

It took responders hours to gain the upper hand on the fire.

"Were challenged not only with high winds but also conditions of low humidity and lack of water and moisture in the ground," said Hicks.

The good news is that no home or structures were damaged by the brush fire. More than 70 acres burned. An investigation is now underway to determine what sparked the fire.

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