High winds wreak havoc on fire, again - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

High winds wreak havoc on fire, again

April 26, 2007

Ware County --  Gusts of 20 mile per hour fueled the south end of the Ware County wildfire creating a dangerous situation south of Waycross.  The head of the wildfire continued to intensify throughout the day fueled by winds.

Thanks to our escort from the Georgia Forestry Commission were able to show you why this wildfire is just so difficult to bring under control.  I want to let you know we had plenty of safety personnel with us including George Custer a national operations chief so we could bring this video to you.

In the Dixon State Park up ahead of the head of this wildfire not only can you see it, but you can hear it coming. A black cloud, almost like a tornado, bringing heat, sparks and flames.

"You saw the crowning the running head fire coming towards you," said Byron Haire of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Helicopters are continuously dumping retardant and water, trying to slow the blaze as crewmen watch the break they've strengthened near the power lines. "This is what our guys, the video you're seeing is what our folks have to try and fight daily," Haire said.

The force of the head fire threw entire burning branches across the break. "It only takes a small ember to get it started much less something that size that's a given, it's going to light up, it's going to take off and it's going to be hard to catch," Haire said.

When spot fire started sparking across the fire breaks, crewmen were there to quickly get on it, and it was no longer safe for us to be on the line. "Those small sparks landing in that fuel type only takes a moment for them to explode into a large fire."

It's just a small chance to see what these crewmen out here are dealing with.  The heat as the head fire neared us was very intense, and flames were reaching 80 feet.  They did have some spot-over on Highway One but fire crews were quick to jump on it, and were able to contain it from going any further on the other side of Highway One. 

But the Forestry Commission explained this is the exact reason why they don't want anyone burning anything right now, they say the conditions are just too dry.

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