Fire and price tag grow - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire and price tag grow

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May 2, 2007

Ware County - The Ware County Wildfire alone has scorched more than 89 thousand acres.

Destroyed 18 homes.

Damaged millions of dollars in property.

All together, this equals the largest, most destructive wildfire in Georgia history.  "If you take our previous 10 largest fires and add them together, that's less acreage than this one fire we've encountered here," says Bob Farris, Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

And it's also devastated one of Ware County's largest industries.  "We've lost literally 10's of millions of dollars worth of timber."

Almost 900 firefighters and foresters have worked for over two weeks trying to keep the fire from spreading, using an arsenal of tools including massive fire breaks.  "We've got fire lines going around the perimeter of this fire that are 126 miles long. Now if you take all the areas where we've lined up 10 to 15 tractors side by side, you literally have thousands of miles of fire breaks," he says.

But despite their efforts, this fire is still blazing and showing no signs of burning out anytime soon.  "Our management objective with the fire right now is to keep it west of US 1 and Swamp Perimeter Road and keep that rascal in the swamp."

But their efforts will increase with every acre.  "They are cleaning the swamp edge break. They're doing some prep work on the areas where we think that fire may come out," says Byron Haire of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The cost? The state estimates it will spend upwards of 18 million dollars to finally get this fire out.

The Federal Emergency management Agency has already agreed to give some funding to the state to help pay the bills.  They still have not announced how much.

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