Firefighters are working to contain a wildfire that has burned four days and spread across 5,600 acres of Shenandoah National Park.
The fire in the south district of the park, on Rocky Mount, had grown to approximately 2,094 acres as of Monday night. By Wednesday afternoon, the size of the blaze had more than doubled, the National Park Service said.
A portion of the Appalachian Trail was closed, from Doyles River Overlook (mile 82) to Powell Gap (mile 70). Skyline Drive was closed from Swift Run Gap (mile 65) to Loft Mountain (mile 79). Multiple trails were closed. For the full list, see the Facebook page for the park.
The cause of the fire reported Saturday is under investigation and was likely caused by humans, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group.
More than 200 firefighters, two helicopters, eight fire engines and another aircraft were battling the blaze, including personnel from the National Park Service, Virginia Department of Forestry and USDA Forest Service. Additional firefighters and equipment were en route Wednesday night.
Most forest fires in Virginia are caused by human actions and can be prevented, the Virginia Department of Forestry says. The department has these tips on preventing fires:
- Do not leave a campfire fire unattended. If a fire does escape, call 911 immediately
- Keep a supply of water and a rake or shovel near the fire
- Start fires only when the wind is calm
- Report any acts of arson immediately and note a description of the suspect and their vehicle
- Teach children about how to safely set and put out a campfire
About 30 miles north of the wildfire, the search continues for a Fairfax County firefighter, Nicole Mittendorff, who was reported missing Friday.