Red Flag Warning Continues, Brush Fires Reported Already
Bedford Co., VA - A Red Flag Warning remains in effect for a good part of the ABC 13 Viewing Area this afternoon through 6 p.m.
A Red Flag Warning means that the combination of gusty winds, very low humidity, and dry ground could easily lead to what the National Weather Service describes as "explosive" fire development given any source for fire, such as a spark or a lit cigarette.
"It's been nearly a month since the area has had an inch of rain," National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Phil Hysell said. "The biggest concern this afternoon is the added winds."
Dead leaves now on the ground could compound the problem, Hysell said.
While no burn bans are in effect, several localities are strongly advising that people never burn outdoors on a red flag warning day.
Just before 1 p.m., the Buena Vista Fire Department was called to a brush fire threatening a building on Highland Farm Road.
"People need to be alert to the changing conditions and be extremely careful with cigarettes" Rockbridge County Public Safety Director Robert Foresman said. "We strongly recommend that people do not burn during a red flag warning."
Winds Sunday are expected to blow out of the west and northwest at between 15 to 25 mph, with higher gusts to 40 mph.
The peak of the wind is expected between now and 3 p.m., but the gusty winds will still continue through 6 p.m., Hysell said.
Already in Lynchburg, crews responded to a small brush fire at 11:28 a.m. in the 5600 Block of Edgewood Avenue.
In Elliston, sparks from an Appalachian Power transmission line caught a field of grass off of Barnett Road on fire at 10:45 a.m. Sunday, according to Jody Martin, with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.
Martin said a water tanker from Roanoke County was called in to help extinguish the blaze, which was quickly put out. Elliston Fire Crews were still on the scene wetting the area down with water as a cautionary measure, Martin said.
"There is no burn ban in effect and the burn laws don't start until February, but we're just asking everyone to be very careful and not to burn today," Martin said.
"The leaves are a big concern," Foresman said. "As the high winds combines with the other factors, we really don't want a repeat of the Rich Hole fire from 2011."
Winds will diminish somewhat Monday, between 10 and 15 mph, allowing the National Weather Service to drop the Red Flag Warning after 6 p.m. tonight.
Still, lack of rainfall and dry air will keep the fire danger elevated until beneficial moisture can soak into the ground.