Matt’s Creek fire in Bedford County affects schools, roads

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 8:36 PM EST
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BEDFORD CO., Va. (WDBJ) -The Matt’s Creek fire in Bedford County has spread significantly, from 15 acres to 3600 acres in half a week. The blaze and ensuing smoke has led to road closures, school shutdowns and more.

The fire is within Jefferson National Forest. There are about 80 personnel, including firefighters and support staff working on containing it. “It’s incredibly remote, and on the first day, when the firefighters were trying to access the fire, they actually had to hike about three miles to get to where they were going to start putting in their fire line. It’s steep, it’s rocky, and it’s incredibly tough terrain,” said Stephanie Chapman, the fire information officer on the Matt’s Creek Fire.

She says most wildfires in the state are caused by people burning debris. “We are we are really asking that people be extremely cautious with all fire. We do have the stage with fire restrictions in place, but conditions are really right for other fires, so be cautious,” explained Chapman.

A resident who lives nearby says the hope is that this fire doesn’t spread any more than it already has. “I heard it was started by a campfire, we don’t know for sure, but were just hoping and praying it doesn’t spread and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed,” said Jordan Harris.

The smoke in the air is a main issue that has caused school closings in the northern part of our viewing area, where the smoke is blowing. Winds are light right now – so smoke will be staying around for a while – blanketing what it touches. So you can expect to see and smell smoke.

Because the Matt’s Creek fire is in the wilderness, it’s important that crews are sensitive to its natural state.

“We’re not able to use a chainsaw or use a bulldozer so we do have to be light on the land. So they’re going in and they’re using mist blowers, we are using helicopters to drop water because we really are trying to protect that resource. But we also don’t want to do any any unforeseen damage,” explained Chapman.

WDBJ7 will continue to keep you updated.