Brushfire near U.S. 11 caused by cutting torch
On Monday, April 16, 2012, a brush fire ran rampant across the land right off Route 11 near Walton Road before being contained by firefighters.
One injury was reported. The victim, a landowner in the vicinity was treated for smoke inhalation and is in stable condition.
After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the fire was caused by an individual attempting to slice old junk with a cutting torch.
The fire carved its path through trees and a carpet of underbrush. Along the dirt road where firefighters and responders came to the rescue, stood an abandoned dilapidated home surrounded by trash, debris, and old junk long forgotten by its previous owners.
Around 40 volunteer firefighters and officials responded to the scene and a mobile command center was set-up off Hornsby Lane.
Responders included firefighters from the Blacksburg Fire Department, Christiansburg Fire Department, Riner Fire Department and officials from the Virginia Department of Forestry.
The lot where the mobile command center was located doubled as a temporary landing pad for a small helicopter that transported water from the New River on to the fire. The helicopter was also used for reconnaissance so that the responders would know where the fire was, where there were breaks in the fire and how close it was located to the roads and surrounding properties.
“Bad weather conditions such as these, with wind and dry land because of little snowfall in the winter, are great for a fire,” said Dennis McCarthy, Assistant Regional Forester of the Virginia Department of Forestry. “Ninety percent of fires like these are man-caused.”
According to McCarthy, two bulldozers with plows flanked the fire to create containment lines forcing the fire back inside the lines.
“It’s like the saying, we are fighting fire with fire,” said McCarthy. “We are trying to burn off the fires indirectly so they will extinguish themselves.”
As of 8:30 p.m. on Monday night, the fire was contained and only caused destruction across 18 acres.
A skeleton crew, as McCarthy explained, would be placed overnight to make sure that the land was not reignited.
“This is the first major brush fire this spring. The average amount of brush fires each year varies due to weather conditions,” said Chief Billy Hanks of the Christiansburg Fire Department.”We have a portable GPS that will plot out exactly where the fire is located and will draw it out.”
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