Officials say Tye River Fire is 60 percent contained
UPDATE (8:00 p.m., May 8):
Officials with the U.S. Forest Service say the Tye River Fire in Augusta and Rockbridge Counties did not get any larger on Tuesday.
They say that as of Tuesday evening, the fire, which is in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests about 3 miles east of Vesuvius, covers about 1,608 acres, including nearly 324 acres within the Saint Mary's Wilderness, and is 60 percent contained. Rain over the last few days and the ongoing work of the firefighter helped increase the containment from previous days.
Officials say about 63 firefighters and support staff, including a helicopter are assigned to this incident. The fire is being managed by the U.S. Forest Service as a type 4 incident.
Travelers on VA Highway 56 between Vesuvius and the Blue Ridge Parkway are asked to use caution and be aware of firefighters and fire equipment while traveling the steep narrow road.
All trails within Saint Mary's Wilderness are now open, except for Mine Bank Mountain Trail. No one, except fire crews, is allowed off of designated trails in the portion of St. Mary's Wilderness that is south of St. Mary's Trail and west of Mine Bank Creek Trail.
VA-56 (Tye River Road) is open. It was previously closed between Vesuvius and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A brush fire on the border of Augusta and Rockbridge counties burned more than 1,600 acres as of Saturday evening, according to officials with the U.S. Forest Service and Virginia Department of Forestry.
The fire as of Sunday evening, has burned 1,608 acres, including 324 acres within the Saint Mary's Wilderness. The fire did not increase in size on Sunday or Monday.
The fire was estimated to be 60% contained as of 8:00 p.m. on Monday.The increase in containment is due to work by the firefighters and the rain over the weekend.
Throughout Sunday and Monday, firefighters in Rockbridge County were on mop-up duty — ensuring smaller flames were extinguished. In Augusta County, crews fought an active burn.
Travelers are advised to use caution when traveling on Tye River Road, and be aware of firefighters and fire equipment on the roadway.
Virginia Dept. of Forestry Spokesperson Karen Stanley said about 90 people were fighting the fire.
"There was one of our engines overnight, just watching the fire in the area where the houses were, so that they stayed safe," Stanley said.
Saturday's wet weather offered some help to firefighters.
"There's not as much prevailing winds today, so the weather has definitely been on our side a little bit more today," Stanley said. "The humidity has been up."
Rain can help crews fight the fire, but it can also be a double-edged sword. Stanley said while rain overnight Friday helped lessen the intensity of the fire, it also made it more difficult for firefighters to get a footing when climbing hills to reach areas that were burning.
The fire began on Thursday after flames from a vehicle fire spread.
The next update is expected around 7 p.m. Monday.