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Wind spreads wildfire

Wind gusts from storms that blew through Suffolk Sunday intensified a wildfire on Trumpet Drive, and the rain that accompanied the wind did little to help extinguish fires burning throughout the city.

Wind caused the Trumpet Drive fire to jump the containment lines on Sunday, bringing the total acreage of that fire to 15, city spokeswoman Debbie George said. The fire has burned since July 5. Firefighters from Suffolk Fire and Rescue, Holland and Whaleyville volunteer fire departments, and the Virginia Department of Forestry spent Monday establishing new fire lines, and are continuing to monitor the area.

A separate fire on Gates Road has burned about 85 acres since it was first reported July 21. It has remained within its lines. Firefighters believe the likely cause of that fire, in a stand of pine trees, to be lightning.

Neither fire is threatening any structures, but both are spreading a haze and a smoky smell throughout the southern area of the city.

Though lightning is unavoidable, residents can take other steps to help prevent forest fires in dry conditions. Burning trash or yard waste is prohibited in Suffolk through Sept. 30.

People also should avoid driving or parking vehicles in tall grass, avoid activities that can create sparks, properly maintain farm equipment and never dispose of a cigarette butt outside.