HARRISONBURG — The U.S. Forest Service resumed a prescribed burn in George Washington National Forest Thursday, four days after it was suspended due to strong winds and a small spot fire that started outside the burn’s control lines.
The 4,505-acre Cub Run prescribed burn, one of many the Forest Service manages each year to prevent major forest fires and help renew forest habitat, includes parts of Second and Third mountains on the Massanutten Mountain ridge line, in both Rockingham and Page counties, the service said in a statement.
Firefighters began aerial ignition of the burn on Thursday well inside the fire’s control lines, which form a buffer between the burn area and the rest of the forest. About 30 firefighters and support staff will take part in the burn, according to the Forest Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While the prescribed burn will take at least two days to fully set, residents in the area could see smoke coming off the mountain for up to two weeks, the statement said.
Fire crews began the controlled burn on Saturday in the forest northeast of Harrisonburg, establishing control lines around the burn area designed to keep the fire contained. But strong winds on Sunday caused the blaze to “jump” the control lines.
Firefighters stopped the burn and focused their efforts on re-establishing control lines and putting out the small spot fire outside the lines.
The fire was quickly contained but continued windy conditions kept firefighters from restarting the burn, officials say.
The following roads and trails are temporarily closed due to the burn: Cub Run Road (Forest Road 65) and Pitt Springs Road (Forest Road 375); Massanutten South Trail (No. 416), Fridley Run Trail (No. 419), Martins Bottom Trail (No. 579), Second Mountain Trail (No. 580), Morgan Run Trail (No. 583), and Pitt Springs Lookout Trail (No. 584).
The Boones Run Shelter will also be closed during the prescribed burn.