As the Rocky Mount fire in Shenandoah National Park chars thousands of acres of land, the smoke plume can be seen from miles away. Thick brown smoke spins as it rises from the Shenandoah hilltops. A brown haze wafts to the southeast.
The fire started on Saturday afternoon, according to John Miller, the state and wildland fire chief at the Virginia Department of Forestry, and quickly grew to 4,000 acres by Wednesday morning.
The video was shot from about 30 miles away from the fire near U.S. Route 340 south of Elkton, Va., and uploaded on Tuesday. It looks east on the fire as winds blew smoke to the southeast. On Wednesday, winds shifted to blow smoke to the southwest.
Officials don’t know exactly what caused the fire, though they suspect it was human activity. The Department of Forestry is responsible for protecting property outside the park boundaries, while the National Park Service has jurisdiction within the park itself.
Miller told The Washington Post that he has “full confidence” the structures around the park are protected.
Winds turned strong on Monday and Tuesday, which caused the fire to expand rapidly in the dry, hot conditions. However, weather looks like it will be favorable for fire-fighting through Friday. Showers are in the forecast from Thursday night into Friday, though there probably won’t be enough rain to put out the fire completely. At the very least, it will dampen the ground, leaves and brush and give the National Park Service more time to secure the southern progress of the fire.