July 8, 2008

Wildfire Burns More Than 500 Acres in Botetourt County

By Amanda Codispoti and Jessica Marcy

A wildfire in Botetourt County has burned 505 acres as of Friday night, a spokesman with the U.S. Forest Service said.

Ted Coffman of the service said that the fire is burning two miles east of Buchanan on Cove Mountain in the Jefferson National Forest. It has not yet been contained and it could take days to do so because of the rough terrain, Coffman said.

No structures are threatened at this time and 69 people are working to establish a fire line around the blaze. Crews are using a bulldozer and have requested a helicopter, but it has not arrived.

The fire was first reported Thursday afternoon and officials believe the fire may have been sparked by lightning.

The blaze has closed the Appalachian Trail from the Bear Wallow Gap to Jennings Creek. The Little Cove Mountain Trail and the Glenwood Horse Trail from Virginia 43 to Virginia 618 are closed. Dispersed camping is also closed at Harkening Hill on McFalls Creek Road.

Officials ask the public to avoid Virginia 43 from Buchanan to the Blue Ridge Parkway and local roads in the area of the fire because of smoke and firefighting equipment and personnel.

-- Amanda Codispoti and Jessica Marcy

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