Backyard Fire Spreads to Several Acres on Mountain


AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va.---Smoke and flames spread quickly on eight acres of Calf Mountain in Augusta County on Sunday.

Five fire departments and other agencies responded to the 1300 block of Calf Mountain Road just before 3 p.m.

Neighbor Chris Rye lives across the street from where it happened. He said at first he didn't think it was a real fire.

"Everybody around the area thought it was a control burn. But of course when you see six or seven fire trucks it's not," said Rye.

Virginia Department of Forestry Technician Roger Moyers said it started in a woman's backyard.

He said the woman set grass on fire when she tried to kill ticks who were crawling up her leg.

Neighbor Brenda Brown said she can't believe this is how it started.

"Naturally you should have picked the tick, put it in the trash can and burned it. Not around a bunch of leaves and stuff," said Brown.

Chris Rye said it could be dangerous.

"Living in the mountains. Starting a fire or whatsoever is not a good idea. But we all make mistakes," said Rye.

This is a mistake Moyers hopes others can learn from. He said people should not burn anything before 4 p.m. during the Spring.

"All the vegetation is dead and cured from the winter freeze and it's real flammable and also the hummidity is low this time of year and we have some winds," said Moyers.

The winds helped spread the fire on the hillside, making it harder for firefighters to contain, according to Moyers.

"The more winds and also we had here a lot of steep terrain and fire burns faster up steep terrain," said Moyers.

Moyers said he was concerned houses on top of the mountain will catch fire.

For Rye his biggest concern was his own home.

"I was shocked. I was afraid because you never know when the wind is going to turn. If the wind turns it would go toward the house," said Rye.

Moyers said the woman who started the fire can face charges for violating open burning laws. She could be fined for the cost of putting the fire out, according to Moyers.

The woman who allegedly started the fire did not want to comment. The Forestry Department will continue to monitor the fire on Monday.

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