ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — The Matt’s Creek wildfire has now burned more than 10,000 acres causing air quality alerts across several cities, towns, and counties. More than 300 personnel are battling the flames and so far, it’s 27 percent contained– and now there are new concerns about wildlife.
However, professor of Environmental science and sustainability at the University of Lynchburg, David Perault, says it’s not as bad as you might think.
“Most of the species are adapted to it, and most animals and wildlife can move away from it, you might have some of the young or some of the elderly or if you’re injured or sick die, but you can often move away you can burrow you can fly, so the wildlife in the end often benefits,” said Perault.
Perault says because wildfires are nothing new to the Commonwealth, the wildlife has adapted over the years to know how to survive in these conditions.
“And in terms of the vegetation you tend not to see a lot of mortality,” said Perault.
He adds that the fire can actually benefit the environment in the forest in the long run.
Dave Walker, Operations section chief with the Southern Area Incident Management Team, says crews are currently using controlled fires along the edge of the wildfire to burn up fuel– so that when the fire reaches the perimeters, it has nothing to catch on and burns out.
“It’s easier to meet the fire, under our terms, with a higher probability of success,” said Walker.
Although the fire is growing– Walker says the anticipated rain can make a serious difference
“It won’t put it out completely, we’ll still have to follow up and monitor and do a little mop up here and there, but it will be a huge help and something that will help put this community at ease,” said Walker.
Again, no structures are in danger from the fire as of right now– but Perault does say there is a chance you may see some wildlife wandering into your backyards if they’ve moved out of the blaze– he says to just be sure to not leave any food out as that is usually what the animals are looking for.