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Amherst County wildfire grows to 4,800 acres, national teams brought in to help

Crews on the scene of Mt. Pleasant in Amherst County (Priscilla Kaiser)

UPDATE: Nov. 22 | 7:30 p.m.

The Virginia Department of Forestry says the wildfire in Amherst County has grown to 4,800 acres. At this time, there are no mandatory evacuation orders.

They say if you need to be evacuated from the fire, they will come to your house to let you know and have an evacuation site ready.

For now, fire officials ask local residents to clear fire hazard materials away from their homes including wood piles, leaves and brush.

Fire officials say strong winds and low humidity contributed to the rapid spread of the fire on Sunday. They say the South and East side of the fire is their main focus as they are working to bulldoze a fire line to keep the neighboring homes protected.

They say their priority is protecting people and personal property.

If you'd like to help, Central Baptist Church in Lowesville is accepting food and water on Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

You can keep up with updates from the USDA Forest Service here:

--ORIGINAL STORY--

AMHERST Co., Va. (WSET) -- The USDA Forest Service is working with the Virginia Department of Forestry to contain a wildfire burning on the George Washington National Forest and private land in and around the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area in Amherst County.

A public meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Baptist Church on Central Church Lane in Lowesville.

A team from Montana arrived Monday night to help with the fire. The fire is being managed under a unified command between Incident Commanders David Hamilton and Virginia Department of Forestry Incident Commander Steve Counts.

The fire is estimated to have grown to 2,700 acres in size from Monday.

The USDA Forest Service said strong winds and low humidity have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire since Sunday. More favorable conditions are forecasted for the next couple of days which should help firefighters struggling with containment efforts.

The organization said firefighters will continue to build hand and bulldozer lines to contain the fire.

Helicopters are assigned to the fire and are dropping water within the priority areas as needed. Crews on the scene said 0% of the fire has been contained.

The USDA Forest Service writes that additional ground firefighting resources are continuing to arrive at the Command Post which is located at the Buena Vista Work Station.

As a result of the wildfire, Thrasher's Creek Road is closed at Molly's Mountain.

Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area has also been closed to the public, including the following roads and trails:

  • Hog Camp Gap Road (FR #48) from Hog Camp Gap to Salt Log Gap
  • North Fork of Buffalo Road (FR #51)
  • Coon Bridge Road (FR #1167)
  • Appalachian Trail (FT #1) from Long Mountain Wayside to Salt Log Gap
  • Old Hotel Trail (FT #515)
  • Henry Lanum Trail (FT #702)
  • Mt. Pleasant Trail (FT #704)

The USDA Forest Service said the fire was discovered Saturday evening. The cause is still under investigation.

There is currently a fire ban on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests to maintain public safety and protect forest resources during extreme drought.

Building, maintaining, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire is not allowed on National Forest lands outside of developed recreation areas.

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