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Firefighters Gaining More Containment of Race Pond Fire

The Florida Times-Union

May 31, 2011

Firefighters are gaining control of the Race Pond Fire that has threatened for days to jump into the Okefenokee Swamp, officials said.

At last measure, the fire had burned 7,852 acres, counting burnouts, and was 40 percent contained, said Mark Wiles, a Georgia Forestry Commission senior forester working with a joint information team.

“We thinking the burnout we attempted over the last two days was effective,” he said.

But it took some doing as firefighters burned out the fuels between Bear Bay, where the fire had advanced since it started a week ago today, and Georgia 177, the two-lane road that connects U.S. 1 to Okefenokee Swamp Park.

A light rain a few days earlier had dampened the brush and low growth in the area of the “strategic firing operation” just enough to make it difficult to ignite. The burnout was slow to take hold Sunday but firefighters were more successful Monday when they went back and reset areas that hadn’t burned, Wiles said.

“There was one spot over and that was insignificant,” he said.

While the burnout was underway, fire engines and firefighters were stationed the length of Georgia 177 to quickly douse any fires that crossed the road.

“We’re really proud of that,” Wiles said of the containment of what has been a stubborn blaze.

There are now four helicopters, 12 fire engines, 29 bulldozers and 107 personnel assigned to the fire.

As for the larger fire in the complex, the Honey Prairie Fire in the southern half of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has now burned 151,536 acres and is 80 percent contained, the joint information center said.

It has three helicopters, 38 fire engines, 13 bulldozers and 291 personnel assigned.

Crews are continuing to mop up fires in containment lines on both fires.

There was also a new fire Monday in the Davis community west of Folkston on the edge of the swamp.

Two tractor plows and two helicopters got on the fire quickly and brought it under control, Wiles said.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

© 2009, YellowBrix, Inc.


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