Where there's wildfire, there's smoke - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Where there's wildfire, there's smoke

April 19, 2007

Waycross --  The Wild Fire in Ware County has been burning for almost 96 hours, forming a cloud of smoke towering thousands of feet over the county.

But it's also engulfed the evacuated area, causing health concerns for the fire fighters working tirelessly and the homeowners once it's safe to return to their home.

As the Ware County Wild Fire Rages on, a massive cloud of smoke has settled over the blazing area. "It's pretty smoky, real low level smoke," said Brunswick Fire Fighter Garrett Wright.

Making it virtually impossible for fire fighters to see the fire until it's right on top of them. "We were actually in some areas where the only way you know where the fire was, was from the heat.  It's zero visibility," says Jeff Davis County Fire Fighter Calvin Hitchcock

And although they wear protective gear, it doesn't always do the job. "The masks only really provide any benefit if they're fitted correctly and they're worn correctly," Southeast Health District Director Rosemarie Parks.

And could have lingering effects on the fire fighters long after the fire is gone.  "You just get to work through it and it does mess with your respiratory system," said Wright.

But they're not the only one's this fire will affect.  Over 1,000 homes were evacuated when the fire first broke out and have been sitting in this cloud of smoke ever since.  And that could bring some additional pains when the homeowners return.

 "People could experience symptoms from smoke exposure.  Anything ranging from some stinging in their eyes, a cough, a scratchy throat, wheezing, shortness of breath, cough, chest discomforts," said Parks.

They are asking anyone with medical conditions to air out their home and sit out from clean up efforts to keep any of these symptoms from flaring back up.

That cloud of smoke is also causing concerns out of state.  Wind has carried it all the way to Florida, wrapping Jacksonville with a mix of smoke and fog.

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