Brush fires causing physical and financial strain

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Everywhere you look, it seems you can spot a potential brush fire. The intense flames scorching thousands of acres from Louisa to Henrico to Chesterfield and beyond.  It is causing quite a financial strain on several fire department budgets and the economy.

The smoke filling up the air and even closing Interstate 64 for part of Saturday because of the fire in New Kent. It's all causing quite a strain on fire crews.

"In my career, it is one of the fastest starting brush fire seasons and one of the most intense," says Chris Buehren with Henrico Fire.

Intense physically and intense financially, too.

Take this fire in New Kent for example. We're learning this weekend fire alone left a $20,000 to $25,000 financial hit on the county. That figure from the overtime and additional staffing, to even the economy. The fire caused several businesses to shut down and that means the county is losing out on sales tax money.

Overtime and manpower issues are a common theme. "We had folks come back from the fire marshals office and training sessions to assist with the fires," adds Buehren.

In Henrico, crews are keeping up financially with these fires. But if the fires continues, things could change. "We are incurring expenses but to put your hands around how much you'll spend, you have to wait until the end of the season to know," says Buehren.

The cost is still unknown for the massive brush fire in Louisa. Crews are working on that right now. Also, in Dinwiddie where nearly 200 acres or so burned last week, the fire department was hit in the use of fuel and loss of some equipment.

Easy to see why crews are hoping things quiet down, soon. "We're all on the same page, saying how busy we've been," says Buehren.

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