Friday on the fire line -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Friday on the fire line

April 20, 2007

Waycross --  The Wild Fire in Ware County spread rapidly since starting Monday, covering 25, 000 acres. Part of that moved in the Okefenokee Swamp Park in Waycross, and 150 of those 25,000 acres burned in this fire is part of the Okefenokee Wildlife refuge.

It entered the northern part of the park in Ware County Tuesday. Since the Forestry Department has been working hard to contain it. They've plowed fire breaks around and throughout the park.

They actually hope to keep the fire within that area because if it spreads to the dry forest to the east and south, it could easily get out of control.

"There's basically not a lot like the refuge and the swamp to run it into and there's nothing but the coast for it to go and with the dry weather, it could possibly do that," says Danny  Maddox of the GA Forestry Department.

With the winds threatening to pick up to 20 miles per hour, they've spent all night plowing those fire breaks and will spend all day doing the same.

If it gets to bad they could burn some of the surrounding areas as a way to possibly stop the fire if it does spread further.

When fire fighters from around South Georgia answered the call for help to battle this wild fire, they had no idea it would still be burning strong four days later, so many left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  And the Ware County community has taken notice.

Over 300 fire fighters are on scene 24 hours a day to battle the blazing Wild Fire in Ware County.  And as the fire fighters and trucks began to stack up in the Ware County High School parking lot, teachers noticed a need

"Okay, if the fire fighters are going to be staying here they're going to need showers, personal hygiene items, a change of clothes,"  said JROTC Instructor Col. Ken Wade.

So a call went out to the community to donate even the smallest items.  "Socks because the fire fighters were coming in late at night and their feet were soaking wet and blistered and so we needed medical supplies and we need socks. Next thing you know we've got two thousand pairs of socks." 

But that's not all they brought.  "Shampoos, odor eaters, tooth brush, tooth paste, hygiene products," said  Lee Williams of the Pooler Fire Department.

"I mean Simmons brought a truck load of mattress pads for the people to sleep on." 

And fire fighters say the job would be a lot harder without it.  "It would make more for a long night. It definitely would and you'd be upset with the people you work with because they wouldn't smell too good."

Donations have been pouring in from as far away as St. George Island in Florida. But with no end in sight, they are still asking for more food, drink and clothing to feed the masses helping working long, hot hours to put out the fire.

If you're someone who's been affected by the fire, The American Red Cross has closed their Emergency Overnight Shelter and later today they'll be opening what they're calling a service center to deal with residential needs. That service center will be at Memorial Stadium in Waycross.