Tuggle’s Gap fire half contained

Published: Nov. 10, 2023 at 6:16 PM EST
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PATRICK CO, Va. (WDBJ) - The wet weather came in handy as crews continue to contain a 1,050-acre blaze in Tuggle’s Gap. Patrick County Fire-EMS says the fire is half contained.

With low precipitation and thickness in the air, the fire is showing signs of slowing down, according to first responders.

It has been a long road that is coming to an end sooner rather than later, thanks to the rain, fire crews, and the community’s outpouring of support.

“We had a good night last night. It was well contained. No jumps last night or anything like that,” said Scottie Cassell, the merchant manager of Patrick County.

He says with weather like this, responders will make lots of progress fully containing it.

“We’ve almost got a ringer all the way around it. So we’re moving forward today. We have the US Forest Service show up today. And we have the National Guard here working with us and we’ve got boots on the ground and we’re surrounding it and putting it out slowly but surely,” Cassell told WDBJ7.

Crews have been camped out at Tuggle’s Gap Roadside Inn with food, water and rooms provided by the innkeeper and community.

“We’d like to thank the public for their overwhelming support that they’ve shown for us the donations the foods. Nick, here at the roadside Tuggle’s Roadside, it’s been great,” said Cassell.

For the past week, a great deal of people who live in Patrick County have been watching as the fire came closer and closer to their homes. Michael Gaul says he traveled from out of town to visit his aunt, after she called him saying the fire was just inches from her backyard.

“Well, I mean, you feel kind of powerless because we were four hours away, you know, and so... you feel the need to be here but on the other side of it, you know, you’ve got all this you know, all this infrastructure working to fix it and you’re in, you’re asking yourself what in the world can I do? But, you know, just being here was was an important thing for us,” explained Gaul.

Fire crews flew a helicopter back and forth to retrieve water from a pond a few feet away from her home to spray on the fire that was just near her backyard. He described his aunt as feeling “shell-shocked” as she looked through her window to see a nightmare.

They are still “fire watching” to make sure they don’t get their hopes up of the fire not spreading back.

“I would say we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ve gotten through this and we can put this behind us as a chapter in our story, but, again, we’re still vigilant, because it’s pretty ugly out there,” said Gaul.