Augusta County Develops a New Plan to Battle Forest Fires

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- In the words of Smokey Bear, "Only you can prevent forest fires," but a new plan in Augusta County is trying to help.

Augusta County is home to 576 square miles of woodlands, but it's also home to nearly 15 wildfires per year since 1985.

"Anything that you can do on your end to prevent those kinds of things from happening, it's just going to make you safer and your property more protected," said Rebecca Joyce, a senior planner.

Augusta County, working with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission put together a wildfire protection plan identifying areas more vulnerable to wildfires areas.

One of the areas is the George Washington National Forest.

"If you're aware of where the vulnerable areas are, then you can focus education to people in those areas so that they can do some things to implement to their structures and their property to reduce the potential for damage if there were a wildfire," said Joyce.

The plan addresses reducing wildfire risks, being prepared for a wildfire and how the area should respond to one.

Augusta County's Director of Community Development, Tim Fitzgerald, said he hopes communities and homeowners associations will make the plan their own.

"We're hopeful that they'll take this and expand upon it, use it to create fire-wise communities and develop plans for their own particular developments," said Fitzgerald.

Joyce said there are little things you can do to help the cause.

"Moving the wood pile away from the house, or planting flame-resistant or retardant shrubs around your house. So there's very simple things people can do to reduce the impact that a wildfire could have on their home," said Joyce.

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