Crews Struggle to Fight Growing Rockbridge Co. Wild Fires - - ABC13

Crews Struggle to Fight Growing Rockbridge Co. Wild Fires


Reporter: James Gherardi l Videographer: Jemon Haskins

Rockbridge Co., VA - The Rich Hole wild fire in parts of Rockbridge and Alleghany Counties has been burning for five days now. It's a constant struggle for crews battling the blazes there, especially on the heels of some disappointing news from the front lines.

After tireless work for days now, crews in Rockbridge County were hopeful a fire break they had built on the edge of the fire line Thursday would be the beginning of the end. But at some point Thursday night, the flames jumped that break, giving these already exhausted crews yet another task.

"This is different. We can come out here and we can build fire lines and build fire lines day and day and night and night, and it's not anything that we can do to put the fire out," said Katie Ruffin, a volunteer fire fighter.

"It can get discouraging. Especially after we've done worked so hard to get lines in and try to contain this thing," said Dennis Goodbar, chief of the Kerrs Creek Fire Department.

Goodbar and his crew have been battling smoldering wild fires here in the George Washington National Forest since Monday. Containment is slow and the terrain is near impossible to navigate.

"A lot of times we are not up on steep ground, rocky territory as you can see here. It's just been real rough," he said.

Crews are exhausted, and the latest setback hasn't helped. Since the fire jumped this break on Thursday, the total acreage burned now exceeds 2,600.

"This is the largest fire in Rockbridge County that I can remember," said Robert Foresman, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Rockbridge County.

Officials say despite setbacks, they are seeing some positives. "As far as on the north mountain property, we feel like we have it all contained and we're going to begin the mop up operations today," said Foresman.

But until each coal is cooled, crews will continue to fight.

"I want to make sure this thing, we get a good hold on it, get it contained, so we can get some of these boys back to where they belong," said Goodbar.

Rockbridge County Officials are hoping the fire will be contained sometime next week.

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