The Tuggles Gap fire jumped the fire line and now involves 850 acres and is now 35% contained, according to Patrick County Emergency Management Services (EMS) Director Scottie Cassell. That represents a 350-acre gain over the 500 acres reportedly involved on Tuesday.
Cassell said the fire line was lost the night of Tuesday, November 7.
“We are sending crew out to protect properties in its path. That’s our main concern, to protect everybody’s property and life,” he said Wednesday morning in a telephone interview.
Cassell said multiple units are on the ground, with more in route. Water will be airdropped onto the fire again as well.
“All four dozers are being deployed as we speak. The national (forestry firefighting) team is still on ground,” as is the Virginia Department of Forestry), and crews from Floyd County, Cassell said.
“Henry County’s got some units in route. So, we’re looking good today” in terms of firefighters, he said.
One objective of the plan of attack is to re-shore, or reinforce, the bottom fire line.
“We think it just jumped in a small area, and we think we’ve already got that area contained. So, it’s looking good this morning. As long as the wind will hold off on us, we’ll be good,” Cassell said.
To create the fire line, Cassell said a dozer was used to plow an area, and that was then backburned to make the line wider.
“So, what we’ll do today is go back down that line again, make it even wider, and make sure it’s clear of all debris or anything that can burn so the fire can’t make it past it,” he said.
Since the inception of the fire last week, Cassell said there have been upwards of nearly 200 people, volunteers and officials, helping to fight the fire.
When the fire rekindled Nov. 6, he estimated 100 people were on hand to help, some from as far away as Surry County, North Carolina.
“As far as we know, no structures have been damaged or lost,” Cassell said, adding no evacuations have been needed so far.
He also thanked the management at Tuggles Gap Roadside Inn for their help.
“They actually have a buffet breakfast for us this morning. They’ve given us rooms to stay in and everything,” he said. “And the communities of Patrick County and Floyd, all throughout the counties, have been very generous in their donations.
“The community has been overwhelming with food, drinks, snacks, Gatorades, their prayers, people stopping by and praying for us and everything,” Cassell added.