UPDATE: Goshen Pass now contained

Local News

UPDATE: 

The wildfire that was burning in Rockbridge County is now 100 percent contained.  

The fire burned 3,1000 acres.  

Here is the latest press release: 

All crews and command staff have been demobilized from the Goshen Pass fire as of noon today. The Goshen Pass fire is at 100 percent containment. Final acreage total is 3,100 acres of burned area. More significant rain fell on the fire area overnight and into the morning.

The Goshen Pass fire has been turned back over to the local Department of Forestry personnel. Rehabilitation of the firelines made by hand crews and bulldozers will start this week to help prevent soil erosion. The Department of Forestry and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will be handling the rehab operation. Water diversion structures will help divert stormwater off the trails and back out into the forest. Grass seed on the trails will stabilize the soil. When these trails are properly stabilized, they will be available if another fire occurs in the area in the future.

Route 39 is fully open to the public. The Goshen Wildlife Management Area roads are also re-opened to the public today. These roads include Laurel Run, Guys Run and Bratton Mountain Road. Drivers and hunters are reminded to be aware of changes in the roads from heavier traffic and also the potential for more unstable and falling snags in this part of the Wildlife Management Area.

An arson reward has been authorized by the state forester, Bettina Ring, of up to $2,000 for information that leads to the conviction of an arsonist. Investigators are in the area to follow up on leads.

Several state agencies worked in cooperation for this fire. Besides the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the Virginia Department of Transportation provided signs, personnel for road closures and traffic control and a crew to deal with fallen snags in the road. The Chief of Fire and Rescue for Rockbridge County, Nathan Ramsey, was available for assistance throughout the incident. And Dominion Power was available as well to keep the firefighters and the transmission lines safe from electrical hazards.

Additionally, a very special thank you to the local volunteer fire departments and rescue squads for providing suppression and medical support as needed, and to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management for providing radio communications support. And to the National Capital Area Boy Scouts

of America and the Goshen Scout Reservation for the generous use of their facilities for the staging and incident command post during the entire fire.

McDonald’s and Wendy’s in Lexington have kindly donated over $1,500 in meals to the firefighters, and the Goshen Scout Reservation has provided space for the equipment and personnel staging. The Best Western, Applebee’s, Country Cookin’, Walmart, Ruby Tuesday’s and Hardees in Lexington also have been instrumental in the care of the firefighters involved in this incident. A special thank you goes out to the Goshen General Store for operating outside of their normal hours to provide lunch to the firefighters over the weekend and especially Easter Sunday. Devil’s Backbone provided lunches today for the crews and overhead. Additionally our firefighters are grateful for the water and ice donations that have been coming in from local community members and businesses, such as Sheetz and the VVOTC. 

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UPDATE:  Wardens with the Virginia Department of Forestry think that the wildfire that started on April 10th in Rockbridge County was started on purpose. 

If you know anything about how this fire started, please call the Virginia Department of Forestry at (540) 363-7002.  

A $2,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. 

The fire is now 80 percent contained. 

Here is the press release: 

Special Forest Wardens from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) suspect the wildfire that occurred April 10, 2017 in Rockbridge County was caused deliberately.

The VDOF and other law enforcement officials are concerned with the number and frequency of these dangerous, destructive and senseless criminal acts. Woods arson is a felony in Virginia and, when convicted, the guilty person could serve up to five years in prison, pay a fine of $2,500 and be liable for the cost of suppressing the fire.

The VDOF needs citizens to be vigilant in the fight against arson – a crime that could lead to property destruction or even death. If you believe you have information relating to the cause of this fire or the person or people responsible, call the Virginia Department of Forestry office at (540) 363-7002 and report it. Alternatively, you may call the Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office at (540) 463-7329 or the Conservation Police with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) at (540) 248-9360. You may also anonymously call the VDOF Arson Tip Line at (434) 220-9053 or the DGIF crime line at (800) 237-5712. Your help may be worth up to $2,000 – the reward offered for information that leads to the conviction of an arsonist. For other emergencies or to report a new fire, call 911.

If you see any fire where firefighters have not yet arrived on the scene, make note of the following:

• Location and time of the fire;

• Description of person or people observed in the area;

• Description of any vehicles or ATVs observed and the license plate if possible, and

• Any other pertinent information that might help investigators. 

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A wildfire that has burned nearly 2,000 acres in the Goshen Wildlife Management Area is about 50 percent contained, according to officials.

With dry and windy conditions, officials with the Virginia Department of Forestry said Friday it has not been an easy fight. Neighbors we spoke with said smoke and ash in the air is becoming a bigger problem.

“It’s been tough the last evening and a half, ’cause…you can’t have your kids out playing because you got ash falling and smoke coming in,” said Ryan Hall, who lives in Goshen. 

Hall said he has seen fewer people coming through to visit Goshen Pass. That means he has also seen fewer customers at the restaurant where he works.

“It’s hurt business for the last couple days with the smoke and the road being closed,” Hall said.

“Every day out here has been challenging,” said Donnie Garman of the Virginia Department of Forestry.

Around 70 people have been fighting the fire, Garman said. Crews have saved three hunting cabins from the flames and have containment lines surrounding at least 3,500 acres, he added.

With windy weather and a low relative humidity, Garman said, even helicopters and planes have had just moderate success. With about 1,800 acres burned so far, he said, the fire is roughly 50 percent contained, but added it is possible the acreage burned could double.

“It’s very rough, rocky terrain,” Garman said. “The fuel moistures are low. We’re seeing some fairly extreme fire behavior. It’s making things very difficult during the middle of the day.”

Garman said containment efforts should improve if the humidity goes up with the potential for rain. As the forestry department fights several fires, he urges people to avoid burning completely, especially if you are in a high-risk area.

“Wait until a better time of the year or later in the spring, early summer when things green up and the humidity comes up a little bit, and just use good, common sense,” he said.

No other buildings are in danger, Garman said. Two firefighters have been treated for injuries related to heat exhaustion and equipment use, but those injuries appear to be minor, he added.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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