Flat Top Mountain Burns

Roanoke, VA- A large section of forest along the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Bedford, Virginia caught fire last night. The first call came in at 12:35 AM, and by 2:00 AM, the time the fire had already claimed 3,300 acres of forest.  Emergency personnel from Buchanan, Bedford, and Evington were the first on the scene, with support from Lynchburg this morning.  As of 2:00 PM Sunday, the fire has been mostly contained.
Parts of State Routes 43, 640, and 766 remain closed to non-emergency traffic. Residents on these roads, and guests and staff of the Peaks of Otter Resort have been evacuated.  The resort and its trails have been severely damaged.  Homes, farms, and businesses hear the bottom of the mountain have also sustained damage.

It is believed that the cause of this fast-spreading forest fire was human, probably from a lit cigarette, after an unseasonably dry April.

“Forest fires are a natural thing, clearing out the underbrush and burning off past years’ leaves.  We don’t have them as often as we used to, that, plus a dry spring this year, and you get a big, hot fire.  The challenge we still face is keeping it away from homes and businesses.  In twenty years, I’ve not ever seen [a fire] spread that fast.  The conditions were just all wrong.  I never thought I’d see a fire tornado with my own eyes.” commented Matt Devereaux, chief of the Bedford Fire Department, “My heart goes out to the Peaks of Otter Resort folks.”
UPDATE: 05/01/16 – Heavy rain has pounded the Roanoke and Lynchburg areas, leading to localized flash flooding and offering a reprieve to area firefighters, battling Sunday’s forest fire near Bedford.  With this rain, the fire is now considered to be under control, though flare-ups remain a possibility.

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