Fire progress has been good - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire progress has been good

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April 24, 2007

Ware County -- The Ware County fire has been burning for over a week.  The Georgia Forestry Commission believes they now have that fire 50 percent contained. 

Tuesday morning they also did their first infrared fly-over's which determined the fire was less than they had been estimating and covering a little over 53,000 acres, rather than 56,000.

They say they have to widen some firebreaks and continue to monitor hot spots but they believe they will soon have this fire under control.

It's hard to believe all of this was started by this small log. Seventy-four-year-old Ernest Sweat saw it all.  "There was smoke down here and I came down here and it was burning and a tree had fallen across the line."

He quickly called 911 and a friend to bring a plow. "He said it would be 30 minutes before it could get here but he was coming as hard as he could go but by that time the fire had crossed the road and gone with the wind."

And as the fire continued to spread, it seemed to take on a mind of its own. "But it had jumped my fields into the other block at least 75 yards.  And on the other side of the field it dropped down and started again."

Straight towards his home.  But luckily some firefighters were there to lend a hand. "They saved me, they were right there with me all the time."

But some of his neighbors weren't so lucky. "It has burnt everything in its path.  As you can see it got my pump house, my utility building, and burnt my four wheeler to the ground," said Don Young, Jr.

As it moved down the road it left even more destruction in its wake.  "The firefighters stopped it from getting my house but it got my mom and dad's house, got my aunt and uncle's house, and another ladies house."

An evacuation was soon announced for those in its path, but these homeowners choose to stick together, even as the fire raged on all around them.

 "I said I ain't gonna leave and of course he could have made me leave, he had a gun on him.  But that's what it would have taken to get me away because it was burning right here at the house," Sweat  said.

Now these neighbors are left to sift through the ashes and begin cleaning up the mess. But they won't go it alone. "We've really come together," said Ben Bennett. "Other people, people we don't even know have come to help us and stuff."

They've said the help from the community has been overwhelming and it's getting better each day.  And with their help, they know it will make the road to recovery easier to handle.

The Forestry Commission says they hope to have this fire completely out by the end of the month.

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