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Ware County Fire Now at Least 4,000 Acres

The Florida Times-Union

May 30, 2011

A fire that started late Wednesday in Ware County just north of Race Pond has now burned at least 4,000 acres and is keeping U.S. 1 and CSX Transportation closed south of Waycross.

The Georgia Forestry Commission has 27 tractor plows working the fire and 20 more on the way, said Mark L. Wiles a senior forester for the Forestry Commission.

“There is no containment so far,” Wiles said.

The Forestry Commission began fighting the fire around 6 p.m. and CSX closed its main line between Waycross and Folkston about two hours later.

As of this morning the fire was moving on two flanks, one to the northeast and one to northwest, and crews were working “to pinch it off” before it burned into the northeast side of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, said Brian Goddin, an information officer assigned to the huge Honey Prairie Fire in the refuge.

Jim Burkhart of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the fire jumped U.S. 1 to the west in a couple of places overnight although it remains a good distance from the Okefenokee Swamp Park.

The fire is actually of more concern to the east, he said.

“I’m worried about all those communities up there,” Burkhart said.

The fire had burned as far north as Kitchings Road, he said.

The road intersects U.S. 1 about 15 miles from Waycross.

The size of the fire is a rough estimate, Burkhart said.

“It’s so smoky, we can’t get a good map line around it,” he said.

As for the Honey Prairie Fire, it was measured at 148,500 acres this morning with a little activity, Wiles said.

Lightning strikes from a thunderstorm triggered a couple of new fires outside the burned area in southwest side the refuge but still inside the Swamp Edge fire break, Wiles said.

The incident team was working those spots with crews and helicopter water drops, he said.

There was also some reburning in some areas of the fire. That happens when the dead leaves and needles from damaged trees fall to the ground and are sparked again, he said.

“That’s all inside the black area,” he said.

There are now 227 personnel assigned to the fire with five helicopters, 35 fire engines and 24 bulldozers.

Weather forecasters have said there is an increased chance of thunderstorms this afternoon but without sustained high winds that could make the fire more active, Wiles said.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

© 2009, YellowBrix, Inc.


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