Wildfires close Interstate 64 in Virginia

County Line fire 4-7-2012
Map Virginia fires 4-11-2012
Map of fires in Virginia April 11, 2012

Updated at 4:33 p.m. MT, April 11, 2012; original article: 10:54 a.m. MT

Interstate 64 in western Virginia was closed in two places for 20 hours due to wildfires on Tuesday and Wednesday. It reopened around 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday. Large fires are burning in the counties of Alleghany, Craig, Bath, Rickbridge, Page, Rockhingham, Shenandoah, and Stafford. Just across the state line in West Virginia there are other large fires in Greenbrier and Pocahontas counties.

A heat-detecting satellite produced the data on the map above that shows the Virginia fires in the counties of Alleghany, Craig, Bath, and Rockbridge, as well as one fire in West Virginia. The white line running generally north and south is the state line between West Virginia and Virginia.

Mike Quesinberry’s Southern Area Blue Type 1 Incident Management Team is managing five fires that make up the Easter Complex north of Roanoke. Three of those fires are Barbours Creek (1,200 a.), Shipwreck (4,750 a.), and Alleghany Tunnels (6,000 a.). The Shipwreck fire in Page and Rockingham counties is just west of Shenandoah, Virginia. On Tuesday the weather was fairly conducive to fire spread. The relative humidity dropped to 8 percent but the wind speed was 2 to 5 MPH with gusts at 8 to 15. The temperature Tuesday night dropped into the mid-30s, and as of 6:07 p.m. EDT on Wednesday at the Craig Valley weather station it was 45 degrees, the RH was 34%, and the wind was northwest at 3 mph.

County Line fire 4-7-2012
County Line fire April 7, 2012. Photo by Bryon Hart, USFS

In Florida, Dueitt’s Southern Area Type 2 Incident Management Team is managing the 25,000-acre County Line fire in the northern part of the state just south of the Georgia state line. The fire grew by approximately 11,000 acres over the last 48 hours and is listed as 25% contained. On Wednesday, winds are predicted to increase to 10-15 with gusts to 20 mph by mid-to-late morning and shift to west/northwest, sending smoke toward Jacksonville and St. Augustine. On Thursday, the shift will continue from the north and northeast, sending smoke toward Gainesville and Lake City. On Friday, winds will shift from northeast to east with smoke hitting Lake City and possibly Talahassee. There is a red flag warning issued for Thursday, indicating dangerous fire weather conditions.

Most of the areas where these fires in the East are burning are under a Red Flag Warning for Wednesday.

Red flag warnings 4-11-2012
Thanks go out to Bryant

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.