Wildfire consumes several acres in Mitchell County - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Wildfire consumes several acres in Mitchell County

By Cade Fowler - bio | email

BACONTON, GA (WALB) – For the third afternoon in a row, heavy winds and dry conditions fueled a dangerous wildfire in our area.

This one scorched more than 40 acres of forest land near Baconton.

Two Georgia Forestry workers happened to be driving up US 19 in Mitchell County when they spotted the smoke around 3:00 near Old Bainbridge Road.

"Luckily we were driving by an saw it or it would doubled or tripled in size," said Trent Ingram with the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The dry terrain was no match for the flames. The pines and thick brush provided fuel for what quickly turned several acres of land into an inferno.

"We initially called for one tractor to come in, but when the chief ranger got on scene we ended up with 4 tractors on scene and a bunch of fire trucks," said Ingram.

A GFC airplane was brought in to get a bird's eye view of exactly what they were up against.

Forestry crews immediately began plowing fire breaks while firefighters from Mitchell County and Autry State Prison battled the blaze.

Had it not been for a pecan orchard at the edge of the woods, officials say the fire could've easily spread for miles. Luckily the breaks were cut in time to prevent it surrounding woods from going up in flames.

Georgia Forestry officials fear that with conditions similar to those in 2007, when wildfires destroyed several hundred thousand acres of south Georgia land, that the increasing number of fires they've seen could lead to something much worse.

"We continue to have these fires, so we just caution people not to do any burning or light any matches. We're out here out tying up people and putting people's lives in danger," said Ingram.

All these fires are stretching the Georgia Forestry Commission's resources. They're in the middle of cutbacks and must cut 10% of the budget by the end of the year.

Forestry officials will be back out at the scene Thursday to monitor the area for potential flare ups.

Right now it isn't known what caused the fire.

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