Fire and Drought

By: Donald Robinson
By: Donald Robinson

Firefighters on the scene at the Shenandoah National Park have their hands full due to a lack of rain.

"The drought is a real issue," said Barbara Stewart of the National Park Service. "It's a several year drought which means even the things that are green are dry because there is not enough moisture up in the green things as it would be in a normal year."

Barbara says that could make their work even harder because some things will burn that normally wouldn't.

"That's a real issue for the firefighters," said Stewart. "If the fire is mostly running on the surface, it might cook some of those bigger leaves and you can have fire climb much easier."

Fire will move differently depending on the present conditions and other things that are going on.

"The weather that day makes a big difference," said Stewart. "We don't like wind, we like humidity that helps keep it down. But today, we have higher humidity and higher temperatures."

The temperature reached into the 90's today and that didn't help, plus you add into the mix firefighters have to carry a 20-pound backpack, their tools and hike two miles to the fire.

"It's just pacing yourself," said Firefighter Bryant Burnett. "You don't want to go out there and rush everything and try and do everything at once because you will just burn yourself out and have nothing left."

Park officials are not sure what caused the fire. They say more than 470 acres are burning and the fire is 20-percent contained.


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