Got wood? Too late to warm with a cord
During most Charlottesville winters, a fireplace is a pleasant but unnecessary home accessory that provides cozy warmth–- and maybe a little romantic ambiance. But this year, some families who suddenly lost power began looking to their hearths as a primary heat source. The problem is it's too late to buy firewood. At least in any significant quantity.
"Normally, we have some to keep people going," says William Frye of Ruckersville based Frye's Firewood. "This hasn't been most years."
Like most firewood sellers, Frye has regular customers who stock up in the fall. Since the February 5-6 storm, which knocked out power to thousands of area homes, Frye says his phone's been ringing with more requests than he can handle.
"I got wood that I can't really sell because I gotta keep it for my regular customers," he says. "That's the only fair way to do it."
Frye–- noting that fireplace wood needs to be cut and then dried for six to twelve months for best burning– says he does still have some woodstove wood, which can be wetter, but won't burn well in fireplaces.
Several firewood providers listed online and in phonebooks begged to keep their names kept out of this story–- because of the futile phone calls.
Smitty's Tree Service in Front Royal finds itself swamped with such interest that at the time of a reporter's call on Monday, February 8, co-owner Susan Smith said she and her husband, so busy with calls for wood and driveway plowing (another service they offer), that she hadn't slept in 72 hours
"We don't have any for sale at the moment," says Smith. "It'll probably be another four to five days before we can unbury it."
And Smith warns desperate Charlottesvillians that her company–- located over an hour to the northwest–- lies outside the area she's legally allowed to provide wood due to Forestry Department concerns about spreading invasive tree disease and insects.
So for this year, powerless families may remain heatless if they were hoping to buy firewood, as mid-winter, Smith notes, is not the right time to buy firewood.
Smith recommends that people stock enough each fall to last through one or two power outages. And an emergency stockpile–- which will last for years if kept dry–- is an empowering idea this fall, when supplies are replenished.