Department of Forestry: No uncontrolled fires

Virginia Department of Forestry used by permission from VDF Communication Specialist Cory Swift-Turner

Firefighters are mopping up hotspots in Page and Rockingham counties this weekend, but the Virginia Department of Forestry reports that there are no uncontained fires in the area.

The department said it suppressed three new fires covering 14 acres on Wednesday. All three fires were in Dickenson County, the largest of which was 10 acres.

Officials remind the public that dry, windy conditions are returning this weekend. They present an increased fire hazard and burning should be avoided in such conditions.

The statewide burning law is in effect from through April 30. The law prohibits outdoor burning before 4 p.m. when the fire is within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass.

The department adds that smoke may still be visible in some areas. Air quality information is available at

To report a fire, call 911.

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Blackhawks help fight forest fires

West Virginia state seal. Used by written permission by Chief Deputy and Chief of Staff of West Virginia Chuck Flannery

Two West Virginia National Guard Blackhawk helicopters have been sent to Hardy County to help fight a 4000-acre wildfire near Wardensville, West Virginia and the Virginia State Line.

Governor Jim Justice declared a State of Emergency for several counties, leading to the deployment of helicopters.

Each helicopter can carry 630 gallons of water over the dangerous terrain.

The aircraft and personnel arrived from Wheeling and Parkersburg and are experienced in battling wildfires.

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SNP trail closures

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah National Park has closed Hull School Trail from Skyline Drive to Thornton River Upper Trail and Thornton River Upper Trail from the intersection of Hull School Trail to Skyline Drive due to the Rocky Branch Wildfire.

Closures still in place include Skyline Drive from Thornton Gap (mile 31.5) to Mathews Arm (mile 22.1), Appalachian Trail from Elkwallow to Beahms Gap, Rocky Branch Trail, Neighbor Mountain Trail, Jeremys Run Trail, and Byrds Nest 4 shelter.

A parkwide fire ban remains in effect.

National Park Service firefighters are working in partnership with Luray Fire Department and Virginia Department of Forestry.

The cause of this fire is unknown.

No structures are immediately threatened by the fire.

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Trails reopen

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

Shenandoah National Park has announced that all trails around Rapidan Camp have reopened.

These areas were previously closed due to the Quaker Run Fire and the hazard of trees that had been weakened by the wildfire.

On November 17th, the Quaker Run Fire was declared 100% contained.

The wildfire affected 3,937 acres on private, state, and federal lands.

About 700 acres were within Shenandoah’s boundary.

Shenandoah’s complete fire ban remains in effect.

All open-air fires are prohibited, including in picnic areas and campgrounds.

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FCFR announces Line-of-Duty Death of Deputy Chief Chester Lauck

frederick county fire marshal's office

Frederick County Fire and Rescue announced the news of the Line-of-Duty Death of Deputy Chief Chester T. Lauck.

Chief Lauck suffered a cardiac event at his home on the early hours of Saturday morning after engaging in firefighting operations on a wildfire on Back Creek Road in Gore.

He passed away at 8:09 am Sunday morning at Winchester Medical Center surrounded by family and friends.

Due to the circumstances surrounding his death, his passing is regarded as a Line-Of-Duty Death with all associated honors and recognition.

Chief Lauck selflessly served the Round Hill community for 14 years in a variety of roles.

He also served as a Patrolman in the Virginia Department of Forestry starting in 1984.

He also held a variety of positions including Captain and Battalion Chief  during his 22 year career with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire and Rescue Department before retiring in 2007.

Lauck is also a veteran of the National Guard after serving in the 167th Airlift Wing Air National Guard as an Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighter.

His body was transported to Omps Funeral Home on Monday around noon with a full display of support from first responders.

Visitation and funeral arrangements are being planned to honor the service and memory of Chief Lauck.

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13 acres affected by SNP wildfire

photo credit Scott Bradley Hesson with permission

The Shenandoah National Park reports the effects of a wildfire that started around 2 pm on Thursday and lasted till 11 pm that evening.

National Park Service firefighters and a crew from the United States Forest Service got the blaze under control in the Big Meadows area.

Several trails in the region and Rapidan Road remain closed while crews continue to clear remnants of the wildfire.

A power line in the impacted area left Big Meadows Wayside, Campground and Picnic Grounds and Lewis Mountain temporarily without power.

Those areas, which opened for the season Mar. 24, have reopened with power restored.

In all just over 13 acres were affected by the wildfire which remains under investigation.

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Update on the death of a firefighter on duty

The Virginia Department of Forestry announced the death of a Firefighter while fighting a wildfire in Buchanan County.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. March 9 Rocky S. Wood was killed when the All-Terrain Vehicle he was driving overturned while he was scouting for a containment line to battle the fire.

Wood was the cousin of Warren County Fire and Rescue Recruitment and Retention Coordinator Brenda Diehl.

Governor Glenn Youngkin has ordered by email that both United States and Virginia flags should fly at half-staff immediately and remain lowered until sunset Mar. 13 to honor Wood and his service.

Wood was a seven-year veteran of the Virginia Department of Forestry he also worked at the Department of Corrections at one time.

Wood also served as the Haysi Fire Chief and was the Vice Mayor of the town at one time he was 53 years of age with his biography found here.

The cause of the accident that took Wood’s life is still being investigated.

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