SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Suffolk officials say a property owner is facing charges in connection with a brush fire near Deer Path Road Tuesday afternoon that burned 40 acres of woodlands.
Richard L. Hill, age 43, of Suffolk, is charged with careless damaging property by fire (class 4 misdemeanor); regulating the burning of woods, brush, etc.; penalties – 4 p.m. Burn law (class 2 misdemeanor); and deliberate or negligent burning (class 1 misdemeanor).
All open burns are currently banned in Suffolk due to gusty and dry conditions.
Fire officials said Wednesday the Suffolk Fire Marshal’s Office determined the fire began in a trash can and was due to carelessly discarded smoking materials, but then in an updated release said the homeowner was unable to extinguish a fire he started while burning a stump on his property.
The emergency call reporting the fire came in at 1:13 p.m. for the 3800 block of Deer Path Road. After about five hours, crews were able to bring the fire under control.
Fire officials said engines, brush trucks and tankers from Suffolk responded to the area, which is densely-wooded. The Virginia Department of Forestry also sent multiple units and plows.
Windy and dry conditions caused the fire to move and jump fire lines. It extended deep into the trees in several areas.
Virginia Department of Forestry air-dropped four loads of water, each about 475 gallons, to aid in firefighting efforts.
Suffolk police and Suffolk Fire & Rescue told residents between 3457 to 3875 Indian Trail Road to evacuate. They were allowed to return to their homes by 6:15 p.m.
The Virginia Department of Forestry and several Suffolk Fire & Rescue brush trucks planned to remain on scene in case of any flare-ups.
The roadways around Deer Path Road and Milford Lane, as well as Deer Path Road and Indian Trail, were closed to traffic as police provided traffic control in the area. Those closures in the immediate area of the fire would be lifted once the responding equipment was removed from the fire scene.
Suffolk crews were assisted by Suffolk Police Department, Virginia Beach Fire Department, York County Fire Department, Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department, and the Whaleyville Volunteer Fire Department.
The summer burn ban will also be in place starting May 1.