Chief, state officials working to reduce fire threat in mountains

By Joe Beck

WOODSTOCK — Fire Chief Gary Yew has launched an effort with the Virginia Department of Forestry to cut the risk of fires among Shenandoah County’s many mountainous, heavily wooded subdivisions.

“A lot of times it can be a real challenge for us to protect these areas,” Yew told the Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting.

“I don’t need to tell you what a fire would do on a dry, windy day in the Bryce Resort area,” Yew added.

In an interview after the meeting, Yew said the planning is “not so much dealing with the fire as to what can be done to reduce the threat of fires in the subdivisions.”

He cited working with homeowners to create green space buffers around houses as one example of the kind of the project that could prevent a fire or hold it at bay long enough for firefighters to arrive.

He said the development of road networks and evacuation plans for subdivisions are other initiatives that may be worked into the planning.

Yew said the Department of Fire and Rescue and state officials have compiled a list of about 20 subdivisions that are deemed most at risk of fire.

Yew said the planning was begun several months ago.

The initiative involves no new costs to the county, only “the providing of staff time to work with the Department of Forestry,” Yew said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com