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State of Emergency Declared in Virginia as Wildfires Spread

This week Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a month-long state of emergency in response to uncontained wildfires across the Commonwealth. Multiple wildfires ignited over the past week due to dry conditions and high winds typical during this time of year. According to officials, the fires, primarily in Madison and Patrick Counties, have crossed containment lines and pose threats to public safety.

“A state of emergency allows the Commonwealth to mobilize additional resources and deploy staff and equipment to assist in response and recovery efforts,” government officials stated in a press release. “The Virginia National Guard, Virginia Department of Forestry, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and other pertinent agencies are involved in the ongoing operation.”

Eye in the sky: in addition to water drops, helicopters offer a great vantage point for monitoring the fire’s progression, especially in steep, mountainous terrain. Posted by Virginia Department of Foresty.

Quaker Run Fire in Madison County

In a recent update, the Virginia Department of Forestry (VADOF) stated that the fire in Madison County has spread across 3,700 acres of woodland after it breached containment lines over the weekend. The spread now covers nearly 670 acres within Shenandoah National Park. 

“The fire breached a spot in the containment lines and is slowly expanding into Shenandoah National Park and The Rapidan Tract of the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area,” the VADOF posted in an update this week. “That breach aside, large portions of the fire have been stopped by containment lines…Once the fire is contained, firefighters will require two weeks or more to extinguish the fire completely.

There are currently over 150 firefighters working on containing the Quaker Run Fire and preventing structural damage. Yesterday, VADOF reported that with the help of the U.S. Forest Service and the Virginia National Guard helicopters, firefighters were able to successfully hold containment lines. 

Tuggles Gap Fire in Patrick County

In Patrick County, the Tuggles Gap Fire has spread to 1050 acres. In a recent update from the county’s emergency management department, the fire is about 35 percent contained. Officials say that reduced wind has been a help and additional federal assistance will come later this week.

Video posted by Patrick Springs Volunteer Fire Department with the caption, “Crews faced some intense fire conditions last night at the Tuggles Gap Fire protecting a home. So far no structures have been lost. Crews have done an amazing job protecting them.”

“At this point, the fire is still primarily in Patrick County,” Floyd County Public Safety and County Administration wrote in a statement yesterday “They are continuing to alert residents if they feel their home or property is at risk. While most of the fire is moving towards the south further into Patrick County, we do anticipate the possibility of a jump to Floyd, or some backburning on the edge of Floyd near Patrick.” 

Burn bans have been put into place in several Virginia cities and counties, with recent drought and dry conditions raising wildfire danger. As of now, no injuries or structural damage have been reported from either of the major fires. This is a developing story. 

Cover photo: A U.S. Forest Service type-1 helicopter dropping water on the Quake Run Wildfire in Madison County. Posted by Virginia Department of Foresty.

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