April 17, 2007
Waycross -- A wildfire has been burning since about 11:00AM Monday in Ware County, near the city limits of Waycross. Officials estimate that the fire is about 9 miles long, and a mile wide. They said it was about 25% contained, but with sun and wind, the contained area is starting to flare up again.
A hundred evacuees are at the shelter at Waycross Middles School. Many others are in hotels, and some stayed at Open Arms Baptist church Monday night. County officials evacuated anyone who lives from the Waycross City Limits down to Swany Chapel Road in Manor southwest of Waycross. They're also asking people who live in nearby areas to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.
The weekend storm system dropped very little rain on Ware County, so the underbrush is still very dry.
Georgia Forestry Service has helicopters and airplanes in the area. Jeff Davis, Appling, Glynn, and Lowndes Counties have all sent assistance to Ware County. Ware County Fire Chief Jimmy Brown says no injuries have been reported except a county firefighter who sprained a finger while fighting the blaze that broke out yesterday afternoon.
Brown says today the fire appears headed toward the heart of the Okefenokee Swamp, but he says the direction could shift -- depending on the wind. The chief says the fire started when a tree fell on a power line between Georgia 122 and U. S. 84 -- also known as the Valdosta Highway.
In Brantley County, one of two fires still burning threatened Nahunta last night -- causing a number of homes to be evacuated. Frank Sorrells of the Georgia Forestry Service says the fire that started in the Kneeknocker Swamp moved close to the homes. He says the fire has burned about two-thousand acres.
Georgia Forestry forest ranger Nickie Jordan says the other Brantley County fire that began Thursday in the Fort Mudge Road area has burned 864 acres. Crews from counties in surrounding areas are working all three fires.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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