Goshen Pass fire burns over 1000 acres, shuts down Route 39
Published: Apr. 11, 2017 at 11:16 AM EDT
UPDATE (2 p.m. Apr. 13): Crews with the Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries are on their fourth day of fighting a wildfire in the Goshen Pass area of Rockbridge County. The fire has burned more than 1,000 acres since it started on Monday and has caused dead trees and rocks to fall down steep terrian onto Route 39, which has been closed until at least Friday, when crews reevaluate reopening the highway. No homes or structures are threatened by the fire. A helicopter made multiple water drops Wednesday and crews have established containment lines around the perimter of the fire, removing any possible fuel for the fire using backburns. Due to the steep and rocky terrain, most of the work is being done with hand tools, such as leaf blowers, rakes and a tool called a Pulaski. Once Route 39 reopens, drivers should realize that the smoke in that area will be heavy and can reduce visibility.
_____ UPDATE (6 p.m. Apr. 12): The Virginia Department of Forestry says their crews, with assistance from the Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, spent Wednesday conducting back burns, a technique in which lines of fire are used to remove fuel on the forest floor that would let the wildfire spread. One of these back burns occurred on top of Cooper’s Knob, where crews used the area under the high-voltage power lines to initiate the protective measure. There are currently 42 people on scene to fight the fire, most of whom are working the back burns or making additional fire lines using hand tools, rakes and two fire dozers. The fire is estimated at over 500 acres, entirely in the Goshen Wildlife Management Area with no structures in any danger. The area is full of terrain that's nearly vertical and wild, covered mostly in leaf litter and downed trees. Route 39 has been temporarily closed in Goshen Pass as firefighters work to ensure safe passage for drivers passing through the area, which is full of heavy smoke reducing visibility on the two-lane, windy road. _____ UPDATE (10 a.m. Apr. 12): Crews with the Virginia Department of Forestry have been working around the clock to fight a brush fire in Goshen Pass that has consumed more than 500 acres. No homes or structures are threatened, and the Forestry says, as of Wednesday morning, the fire is 20% contained. A portion of the wildfire burned down one slope and extinguished itself when it reached the pavement of Route 39 on Tuesday. The fire is burning mostly leaf litter and downed trees in an area that primarily consists of hardwoods, mountain laurel and some spotty pine. The terrain is nearly vertical and wild, so the Department of Forestry is not risking a lot of people to actively fight it. They have established fire lines, and a burn-out operation is scheduled to begin Wednesday morning. The fire could reach as much as 1,000 acres, according to a spokesman for the Department of Forestry.
Update on Goshen Pass Wildfire pic.twitter.com/evhVYyy6Ke— ForestryVA (@ForestryVA) April 13, 2017
_____ Crews are currently working to put out a brush fire in Goshen that officials say may have been started intentionally. An alert went out to Rockbridge County residents on Monday about a fire burning along Route 39 (also known as Maury River Road) near a picnic area in Goshen Pass. The Virginia Department of Forestry is on scene to fight the fire, which officials say had grown to about 100 acres by Tuesday morning. Fire investigators also determined Tuesday morning that they believe the fire to be an arson. According to WHSV's sister station, WDBJ7, Rockbridge County units initially responded to the call on Monday, but had to leave because the terrain was too rough to attack the fire safely. It is mostly, if not all, on Department of Game and Inland Fisheries property. The fire is in steep country with limited access, and it's expected to grow larger. Crews are trying to control the spread of the fire with helicopter drops, using water from Lake Merriweather, and will be using backburn techniques to try and contain the fire. Drivers in the area are being asked to use extra caution. It's not the only fire burning in Virginia right now though. There is also a brush fire in Carroll County on Fancy Gap Mountain. That's been contained to five acres. An additional brush fire in Henry County is consuming an estimated 21 acres of rugged terrain. It's been almost exactly one year since the Rocky Mount Fire burned over 10,000 acres in the Shenandoah National Park.
Wildfire update: Goshen WMA @500 acres, 20% containment. Help liftoff 4 aerial survey pic.twitter.com/Nnp8IAj6hE— ForestryVA (@ForestryVA) April 12, 2017