Coffee County fire fighters work through the night to save homes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Coffee County fire fighters work through the night to save homes

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COFFEE COUNTY, GA (WALB) -

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Coffee County firefighters continued to douse hot spots dangerously close to homes in two subdivisions Friday.

A wildfire broke out along Moseley Road north of Douglas yesterday afternoon and quickly grew to cover 1,350 acres. Several dozen people evacuated Thursday night but were back home Friday.

In Douglas around 9:30 AM Friday there was thick gray smoke south of the city and downtown as the day went on conditions improved and Friday night many were breathing a sigh of relief no ones home was damaged.

On Riverbend Estates small fires continued to burn as firefighters about a half-mile away doused a charred area just feet from homes in Green Tree Lakes subdivision. Last night the fire raged.

"The winds were just terrible, the wind would get in this brush and we just couldn't do nothing with it, coming roaring through there," said Lt. Raymond Johns, Coffee County Fire Department.

Flames scorched the treetops.

"In some places flames were 25 and 30 feet high," said Johns.

The smoke was so thick it choked neighbors.

"It was so terrible you could hardly see and we were concerned what if the fire blocked out exit to Greentree Lakes," said Jim Osborn, a retired Methodist minister and neighbor.

With only one way out, around 8:00 Jim Osborn and his wife Mary made the difficult decision to evacuate and packed up valuables, their dog Bella and cat Snowball.

"Very Hard, I never had this experience, I've watched it on TV people having to leave, I'm from California and they have earthquakes and fires and things, but this is the first time I've been involved in a situation," said Osborn.

At one point Mary fought the flames nearing her home herself.

"She's a farm gal from Illinois and took off with the hose and put out this little flame out," said Osborn.

Eventually leaving the task and the fate of their home to firefighters who worked diligently through the night and morning. While flames came within 50 feet, their home wasn't damaged, no ones was.

"If the wind hadn't shifted this whole area on Slash Pine would have been a disaster," said Osborn.

Friday both the Osborn's and firefighters feel blessed, like someone was watching over them, keeping everyone safe.

The Georgia Forestry Commission and firefighters encourage people in Coffee County not to burn anything without calling the forestry commission first.

With windy conditions, they don't want to take any chances. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Firefighters believe it may have been sparked by a controlled burn from several weeks ago that flared up in Thursday's winds.


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