Swamp Fire A Big Challenge

Swamp Fire A Big Challenge

19 August 2011

published by www.wvmetronews.com

USA — It’s not been a walk in the park for 20 firefighters from West Virginia battling a wildfire in Virginia.

The 18 employees with the Division of Forestry and two volunteer firefighters left Charleston for the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge Friday, Aug. 12. For the past week, they’ve been helping forestry crews in Virginia battle the fire on the Virginia-North Carolina border.

Because they’re fighting a swamp fire, the foresters are dealing with conditions they’ve never seen before like a super fog event. Smoke combines with swamp water vapors to produce zero visibility.

The Wildlife Refuge has been devastated by a drought that’s dried up most of the water in the swamp. The peat has caught fire and in some areas is burning several feet underground. That’s catching live tree roots on fire, toppling the trees and adding more fuel to the fire.

Heavy equipment has been brought in to help battle the blaze as well.

The West Virginia crew is working anywhere from 12 to 14-hour days. They’re set to remain on the fire line for another week, possibly two.

You can find out what the foresters are doing on a daily basis by logging on to www.wvforestry.com and click on the Lateral West Fire link.



Photo 1. Pump operations putting water into the burnt area to essentially saturate the burning peat to slow the underground fires.

Photo 2. Putting in hard suction to a pump. Pump will flow 4,000 gal/min

Photo 3. Preparing to flood the fire area in order to prevent the peat from burning into the unburnt area. The peat may burn up to 7 feet below the ground surface. As the peat burns trees growing become undermined, fall, and burn adding fuel to the fire.

Photo 4. A burning Swamp

Photos and commentary courtesy of Matthew Borror, West Virginia Division of Forestry

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