BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. — (WFXR) — It’s officially been a week since the start of the Matts Creek wildfire in Bedford. New numbers from officials show that the fire has reached 7,614 acres and is just 27% contained.
The control lines that were put in on Saturday, Nov. 18 held overnight. On, Sunday, Nov. 19, officials said firefighters were almost done setting the primary control lines along the perimeter of the fire to help contain it.
“great progress was made yesterday, firefighters were able to perform a lot more work and activities that were not planned when they went out yesterday,” said Joe Mazzeo, the public information officer for the Southern Area Red Team.
Mazzeo says the fire was more active this morning than yesterday due to low humidity. With the closest structures about 1.7 miles away from existing control lines, part of the goal on Sunday was to continue monitoring those areas. Another was to use Plastic Sphere Dispensers (PSD) to fight fire with fire.
“We’ve got a really light wind today and some humidity sitting in the air as the next system comes through and clear skies, that’s giving our crews the opportunity to initiate fire along that ridge line behind me. What you’re seeing is they’re firing out those ridges to bring the fire down to us on our terms,” said Jen Croft, an air quality advisor with the Wildland Fire Quality Response Team.
By setting their own fires, they are hoping to burn potential fuel for the wildfire. While crews are working to put in those last few containment lines, officials say their biggest concern is for safety not only for firefighters but for the public as well.
“I could count how many times I could drive on this road and then all of a sudden I almost hit some of these people because they either had their lights off and you can’t see them until they’re right up on them,” Jordan Harris, a Bedford county resident.
For those trying to view the fire, officials say to use safety precautions and ask that you do not stop or slow down in the middle of the road to view the fire. They’re also warning their personnel and the public of the possibility of snags.
“Once the trees start burning and the dead trees fall over, that can affect the firefighter on the ground, the public, and can block the roads,” said Dave Marion, one of the Matt Creek fire incident safety officers.
“That’s why the parkway’s still closed until the hazards are mitigated,” said Dave Marion, one of the Matt Creek fire incident safety officers.
Now officials say the fire spread will heavily depend on the rain they can get in the coming days.
However, smoldering could last longer, and smoke in the air could impact locals.