© 2024 WMRA and WEMC
WMRA : More News, Less Noise WEMC: The Valley's Home for Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wildfires burn 6,500 acres, Page County hit hardest

U.S. Route 211 is closed at New Market Gap due to the fires.
Jeff McMillan
U.S. Route 211 is closed at New Market Gap due to the fires.

UPDATE 3/28/24 10:30am (final update for this story)
Posted on the Virginia Department of Forestry facebook page:

"There are no uncontained fires in the Commonwealth this morning.

• In Page and Rockingham counties, resources will continue to complete mop-up activities into the upcoming weekend.
• As always, please avoid areas with ongoing activity for your safety and to allow firefighters to work.

Other fires
• DOF suppressed three new fires for 14 acres yesterday.
• All three fires were in Dickenson County, the largest of which was 10 acres.

• Tonight through Saturday, dry and windy conditions return.
• Tomorrow, predicted wind speeds of 15 - 24 mph, with gusts of over 40 mph, are predicted.
• Please avoid burning during windy conditions.

Smoke and Air Quality
Smoke may still be visible in some areas. Air quality information is available at www.airnow.gov.

Reminder: The statewide burning law is in effect from Feb. 15 through April 30. The law prohibits outdoor burning before 4 p.m. when the fire is within 300 feet of the woods or dry grass."

UPDATE 3/27/24 9:39am
Posted on the Virginia Department of Forestry facebook page:

"Update -- more good news!

Page and Rockingham Counties:
On the fires in Page and Rockingham, excellent progress was made yesterday, reaching containment on:
• 211 West
• Shenandoah Forest, and
• Serenity Ridge

The final uncontained fire is the Capon fire in Rockingham County, which has burned approximately 2,500 acres.
• DOF continues to work on this fire today.
• The focus is on mop-up operations (measures to secure remaining hot spots and all perimeter containment lines).
• Final containment of the Capon fire is expected today.

During the last last week, DOF and partners have suppressed 92 wildfires that burned 12,770 acres.

Over the next few days, DOF will begin to reduce personnel as fires are fully contained. Monitoring and patrols will continue as needed. The federal Gold team will also start to release resources, working toward demobilization on Saturday.

The weather forecast remains favorable for today and tomorrow, with mostly cloudy, cool, and damp conditions expected, along with very light amounts of precipitation.

Thank you to all of our partners and community members for your support, cooperation and patience.

UPDATE 3/26/24 9:35am
Posted on the Virginia Department of Forestry facebook page:

"DOF suppressed seven new fires which burned 23 acres yesterday. The new fire activity occurred in Appomattox, Franklin, Henry, Grayson and Buchanan Counties.

On the fires in Page and Rockingham Counties, excellent progress was made yesterday reaching containment on the 700-acre Rocky Branch fire, and nearly completing containment on all of the remaining fires.

DOF continues work on four uncontained fires that have burned 9,797 acres.
Full containment is expected on all fires in Page County by the end of today.
DOF personnel and equipment resources assigned to the Page and Rockingham fires remain the same as yesterday.
DOF continues to coordinate with county emergency management and county incident command.
DOF is working in the Shenandoah Forest and Serenity Ridge communities again today to answer questions and help address homeowner concerns and needs."

UPDATE 3/25/24 2:07pm
Posted on the Virginia Department of Forestry facebook page:

"More good news from the firelines today: Firefighters have nearly contained the remaining fires in Page and Rockingham counties. All road closures have been lifted. For your safety, please yield and give space to emergency responders as they continue suppression efforts.

Here are the latest updates as of this morning:

Waterfall Mountain Fire in Page County: 6,385 acres, 80% contained

Edith Gap/Serenity Ridge Fire in Page County: 1,148 acres, 80% contained

River Road Fire in Page County: 38 acres, 90% contained

Capon/Brushy Run Fire in Rockingham County: 2,559 acres, 75% contained

Residents may see increased smoke at the Capon/Brushy Ridge Fire area as firefighters conduct strategic firing operations to bring uncontrolled fire to a more manageable location within fire control lines. Follow U.S. Forest Service - George Washington and Jefferson National Forest for current information about strategic firing operations."

UPDATE 3/24/24 7:15pm
Posted on the Page County Sherrif’s Office Facebook page:


CLOSED - 8AM-8PM (resident access with ID)
OPEN - 8PM-8AM to all traffic


UPDATE 3/24/24 7:08pm
Posted on the Virginia Department of Forestry facebookt page:

“Over the last 24 hours, firefighters have contained the final wildfire in Shenandoah County and are making significant progress on the wildfires in Page and Rockingham counties.

An incredible coalition is assembled to put the remaining fires out. As needs continue to be fully met, thank you for supporting the brave responders protecting our communities.

Here's the latest on the remaining fires:

Waterfall Mountain Fire in Page County (formerly named 211 West and Shenandoah Forest Fires): 6,206 acres, 70% contained

Edith Gap/Serenity Ridge Fire in Page County: 1,148 acres, 50% contained

River Road Fire in Page County: 30 acres, 90% contained

Capon/Brushy Run Fire in Rockingham County: 2,559 acres, 45% contained

The Coal Mine Fire in Shenandoah County is fully contained at approximately 200 acres (may increase as mapping improves). Firefighters remain on scene to monitor for reignitions, with spare resources reallocating to support containment on remaining fires.

DOF is also assisting with the Rocky Branch Fire in Page County. For updates on this fire, visit Shenandoah National Park or https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident-information/vashp-rocky-branch-fire

UPDATE 3/23/24 12:06pm
Posted on the Virginia Department of Forestry facebook page:

"Firefighters made progress yesterday by increasing containment on several active fires and fully containing 18 more. Here are the latest updates on the largest fires:

Luray Complex in Page County:
211 West Fire: 2,000 acres, 70% contained
Serenity Ridge Fire: 600 acres, 50% contained
Shenandoah Forest Fire: 120 acres, 70% contained
River Road Fire: 30 acres, 0% contained

West Briar Fire in Rockingham County: fully contained at 1,000 acres (may increase as mapping improves)
Resources will remain on scene to monitor, conduct mop-up operations and clear hazards.

Capon/Brushy Run Fire in Rockingham County: 2,100 acres, 45% contained

Coal Mine Fire in Shenandoah County: 200 acres, 80% contained

More containment progress is expected today as continued rainfall in the Valley aids firefighting efforts."

UPDATE 3/22/24 6:28pm
Posted on the Virginia Department of Forestry facebookt page:

"Firefighters have contained numerous wildfires including the Taylor's Gap Fire in Albemarle County, the Old Mountain Road Fire in Louisa County, and the Yeawood Fire in Culpeper County, among others. Crews hope to have the 875-acre West Briar Fire in Rockingham County contained tonight. The Coal Mine Fire in Shenandoah County is 80% contained at 200 acres.

As fires are controlled, crews are reallocated to the remaining fires in Page, Rockingham and Shenandoah Counties. Additional federal, state, county and local resources are arriving hourly to contain these fires and protect lives and property.

In Page County, several fires including the 211 West Fire will be combined into one incident named the "Luray Complex," under joint partnership management between the Southern Area Gold Incident Management Team, the USDA Forest Service and DOF.

With weather conditions improving and rain in the forecast later today, we are hopeful great progress will be made this weekend in controlling the remaining fires."

Wildfires in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond have burned more than 6,500 acres in the past few days. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

Local, state, and regional agencies have responded to the dozens of wildfires that ignited in Wednesday's dry and very windy conditions. Cory Swift-Turner, communications specialist with the Virginia Department of Forestry, said the largest fires are still burning in Page, Shenandoah, and Rockingham counties.

CORY SWIFT-TURNER: There are several fires in Page County that we have grouped together as the Waterfall Mountain complex, and that includes … the 211 West fire, the East Rocky Ridge fire, the Serenity Ridge fire, the Shenandoah Forest fire, and the River Road fire, and those total have affected more than 3,000 acres.

Firefighters are working to establish containment lines around the fires.

SWIFT-TURNER: The Shenandoah Forest fire is at 10% containment. The rest are 0% contained as of this time. … Either with bulldozers or hand crews, we'll go in with tools to clear away all flammable materials. They'll scrape down to that bare soil.

He said the blazes in Shenandoah County have damaged or destroyed at least nine homes and two other structures, and firefighters' efforts have protected another 33 homes that were at risk.

SWIFT-TURNER: We're hopeful that the improved weather conditions will really help our firefighters make good progress. … Today, humidity is up to about 45%. We are hoping to receive some rainfall in the late afternoon today.

As of Friday morning, road closures were still in effect on Route 211 at New Market Gap, Fort Valley Road in Page County, and Hopkins Gap and Peake Mountain roads in Rockingham. The Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce has offered temporary accommodations for those displaced by the fires.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.