Two huge fires rage, help on the way - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Two huge fires rage, help on the way

April 18, 2007

Waycross -- The Forestry Commission authorized its Southeastern Compact for Fire Resources, meaning firefighters and equipment from around the southeast are now on the way to south Georgia.

A U. S. Forest Service air tanker and five helicopters are fighting the fire from the air, while dozens of firefighters area battling the flames on the ground.

The fire in Ware County started Monday when a tree fell on a power line. So far, 25,000 acres have burned and only a small part of the fire is contained.

In Clinch County, another fire was sparked Tuesday afternoon that burned all night and really kicked up this morning.  The Georgia Forestry Commission isn't sure yet how many acres burned, but it did threaten the town of Fargo.  Officials issued a voluntary evacuation.  Crews spent the day trying to get in front of the fire.

"We've got tractors in there flanking the fires and getting ahead of it if they can but mainly we're just flanking it and trying to pinch it off," said Fargo Mayor Robbie Lee.

The fire is now under control.  In Ware County they're still not letting the 1,000 evacuated from their homes, that evacuated area includes homes along Highway 122 from Musket Trail to Millwood Road.

The winds have dropped from around 20 miles per hour Tuesday, to about five miles per hour. Fire fighters believe they have the fire about 25 percent contained but say all that could change with the wind. The wind is expected to shift tonight and fan the fire and the 8,000 foot cloud of smoke over the city of Waycross.

They say they do not believe that shift will threaten the city but are setting up a barrier between that fire and the city limits.

"They are going to cut what amounts to a road, it's about 12 plows wide and 12 miles long to flank the fire away from the city and make sure it does not cross," said Ware County Public Information Officer James Ginn.

They are asking all those living in the city limits to stay in doors and seal their home to keep the smoke and ash outside.

More than 200 firefighting professionals continue to battle the blazes with reinforcement steadily pouring in. This wildfire is breaking records.  A huge containment  line is being cut to protect Waycross. 

Forest Rangers from Marion, Macon, and Dougherty Counties left Wednesday morning to relieve firefighters and rangers in Ware County. More than 200 firefighting professionals from the Georgia Forestry Commission and other emergency management agencies are battling fires in south Georgia. 

More personnel were called in to relieve many of those who have been battling the fires. "You don't want to fatigue your people too fast because if you do you may lose lives and by rotating them out on a regular basis gives them some R&R time," said Ranger Gary English.

Rangers who left this morning weren't sure where they would be stationed or what the duties would be, but most packed for two weeks.

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