Wildfires impacting area air quality
BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Area residents are seeing poor air quality conditions Friday.
There’s a lot of smoke in the air coming from wildfires across Virginia, especially one in Bedford and Rockbridge counties.
The U.S. Forest Service reports the Matts Creek fire in the Jefferson National Forest has grown to more than 5,100 acres in size.
The fire, which is now the largest in Virginia, is still just two percent contained.
Online reports say the fire has burned 3,600 acres, but the Forest Service says the large increase in size is associated with an overnight infrared flight.
It was first reported on Nov. 12 and the cause has not been determined.
There are about 200 firefighters working the blaze along with three helicopters.
The James River Face Wilderness area and all of the trails associated with it, including the Appalachian Trail are closed to the public.
This covers the Appalachian Trail from the James River Foot Bridge to Petites Gap Road, the James River Foot Bridge parking lot, the Matts Creek Trail, the Piney Ridge Trail, the Balcony Falls Trail, the Gunther Ridge Trail, the Belfast Trail, the Sulphur Springs Trail, and the Glenwood Horse Trail from the Blue Ridge Parkway crossing to the Hellgate Trailhead.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is closed from milepost 66.3, near U.S. Highway 501, to milepost 85.9 at Virginia Route 43.
Due to the smoke, health officials say people with heart or lung disease, older adults, children and teens should reduce their potential exposure.
This includes avoiding strenuous outdoor activity, keeping outdoor activities to a short time frame, and considering either removing physical activities to an indoor space or rescheduling them.
For information on air quality levels in your area, click here.