Prince Edward burn ban goes into effect, as nearby wildfires grow

Published 3:29 pm Thursday, November 16, 2023

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

The burn ban went into effect starting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and will remain in place until further notice. 

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, the county called for a ban on any open air fires until conditions improve. You won’t find any argument from the Town of Farmville or from Clark on the need for it. 

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

This ban is on all open air and outdoor fires. This includes burning brush, leaves and anything else typically burned outside. As Thanksgiving is next week with family gatherings, keep in mind this also includes fire pits and bonfires. 

Nearby wildfires still not under control 

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, the Matts Creek wildfire in Bedford County had spread across 2,750 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. 

A 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. 

People across Buckingham County started calling 911 on Thursday, after clouds of the smoke showed up. The sheriff’s office had to put out a statement, explaining where it was coming from. There is currently no burn ban in place in Buckingham.

“We have checked the area and there is no active fire in our county during this time,” the statement said. “The smoke is coming in from Bedford County, due to the wildfire that is occurring there.”

The Toga Volunteer Fire Department near Dillwyn also asked Buckingham residents to stop any burning for right now.

“There is no burn ban in Buckingham County at this time, but we strongly discourage any burning,” the department’s statement said.

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 Farmville 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.