Lunenburg County burn ban goes into effect, as wildfires continue

Published 1:57 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

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We need rain. A case of extreme dry conditions has led to a Lunenburg County burn ban being put in place. With multiple wildfires popping up both north and south of our area, there is concern any fire in Lunenburg could get out of hand. 

The order, issued Thursday night by the board of supervisors, establishes an emergency ordinance to ban all open-air fires and outdoor burning in the county. This includes the Town of Victoria and the Town of Kenbridge. The ban will remain in place until further notice. 

“The ban on open-air fires and outdoor burning applies to all public and private property,” the statement from the supervisors reads. “The ban includes and applies to: burning associated with construction, earth-moving and demolition operations; burning associated with all agricultural and silvicultural activities; home burn barrels, fire pits or equivalents; campfires on public and private property; and all other open-air and outdoor fires.” 

It’s an issue affecting the entire region. According to Farmville Fire Chief Daniel Clark, the weather conditions due to the lack of rain have dried out any vegetation that’s still around. To keep residents safe until conditions improve, neighboring Prince Edward County also put a burn ban in place. You won’t find any argument from the Town of Farmville or from Clark on the need for it. 

“We are getting some morning dew which helps, but to be precautionary there’s a county wide burn ban,” said Clark.

Nearby wildfires still not under control 

As of 1 p.m. Friday, the Matts Creek wildfire in Bedford County had spread across 6,000 acres and was 2% contained, officials from the U.S. Forest Service said. Nearby parts of the Appalachian Trail have been closed, as the fire is five miles southeast of Glasgow and four miles northwest of Big Island. The concern is that it could easily cause damage both on the Trail itself and the Thomas Jefferson National Forest. 

Earlier on Thursday, due to the dry conditions, a vehicle fire on I-64 spread into Shenandoah National Park at the Rockfish Gap area. That forced Skyline Drive to be closed from Loft Mountain at mile marker 79.5 to Rockfish Gap at mile marker 105. 

Lunenburg County burn ban needed

In addition to Bedford, fires in Madison County and then south of here in Patrick County, near the North Carolina border, are also causing problems. They’re not just burning acres but the smoke generated is pouring into nearby communities. 

According to the National Weather Service, the dry conditions are expected to continue, at least through the first part of next week. The forecast calls for an 80% chance of rain in Victoria and the surrounding areas on Tuesday. But until that happens, Clark says residents of Farmville, Prince Edward and surrounding counties should be cautious of this dry weather. Other residents should stay aware that a burn ban could soon be in place for them as well until wetter weather arrives. 

“We are monitoring weather conditions and this ban will stay in place until we have enough rain soaked into the ground to make it safe to burn again,” said Clark.