Back fire set to thwart big blaze - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Back fire set to thwart big blaze

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April 25, 2007

Ware County --  On the thermal imaging pictures we saw earlier today you could see a distinct ring of fire burning in the Okeefenokee Swamp Park and the Wildlife Refuge. Tuesday it gained momentum and pushed further toward Highway 177, that's when fire fighters decided to take action.

Just before sunset, a plume of orange, deep red, and black emerged from Okeefenokee Swamp Park. Inside the Wildlife Refuge the fire intensified as the forestry commission prepared their plan.

 "They've gone in and cut some lines that are already existing so they won't have to do it now, they're preparing for it now," said Byron Haire, Forestry Commission Spokesman.

At about 8:15 Tuesday evening crews began intentionally setting fire to one side of the roadway. What they're hoping to do is set up that backing fire that will suck itself into the swamp fire hopefully putting it out.

"The fires should suck together and the fuels on this side should be burned out from the fire that went back through there," Haire said.

The weather conditions were just right and the back fire began feeding away from Highway 177 and towards the swamp fire. Fire fighters kept close watch to make sure nothing sparked on the opposite side of the highway.

"We were a little scared possibly that this might cross the road, there are some homes on the other side that could be in tremendous danger if it were to pass over," said Eric Mosley, Forestry Commission Spokesman.

If the swamp fire had burned toward the edge of Highway 177, forestry officials feared it might through sparks as far as a mile. But with the successful back burn, they've reduced their risk.

"I believe this backfire was able to hopefully reduce a lot of the fuels that were in there," said Mosley.