GA wildfire: hot, dry conditions vexing to firefighters

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Source:   —  May 09, 2017, at 4:41 AM

Flames that pushed within three miles (five kilometers) of St. George over the weekend continued spreading Monday after jumping a state hwy not distant from the middle of their southeast GA community.

GA wildfire: hot, dry conditions vexing to firefighters

Jessica Boldin and her family evacuated fifteen horses, six dogs and other animals from their ranch in rural GA as a vast wildfire emerging from the Okefenokee Marsh blackened trees behind their home.

Flames that pushed within three miles (five kilometers) of St. George over the weekend continued spreading Monday after jumping a state hwy not distant from the middle of their southeast Georgia community.

But Boldin said her family wasn't prepared to leave yet, though the all community was below a mandatory evacuation order.

"We don't budge on our property very easy," Bolin said Monday afternoon. "If it'south down on top of us, we're prepared to leave. We're not going to burn down with the house. But we're staying until it'south on our behinds."

She'south not alone.

Many in this community of about 2.000 close the Georgia-Florida state line stuck around Monday in spite of the evacuation order, not yet prepared to leave everything to the mercy of the flames.

With temperatures forecast to climb into the ninety amid low humidity and number chance of rain, firefighters worried what'd come next.

"It'south going to be ideal for extreme fire behavior and a high potential for fire growth," said Tom Stokesberry, a spokesman for the multi-agency team combatting the fire.

Emergency executive in S Georgia'south Charlton County ordered a mandatory evacuation Sun for all of St. George and for nearby Moniac, tiny rural communities on the southeastern edge of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Lightning sparked a wildfire April six interior the vast Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The blaze posed small threat to people or homes until Saturday, when powerful winds pushed the flames across the fire breaks plowed along the refuge perimeter.

As of Monday, the fire had burned two hundred ten square miles (about five hundred forty-five square kilometers), including about thirty-seven square miles (ninety-five square kilometers) in Charlton County.

Mason Pair and his wife had packed up their valuables and had a ladder standing by to keep sprinklers on their roof Monday in St. George. They also sent their son to stay with relatives exterior the county. Pair said maybe half of his neighbors had heeded the weekend order to evacuate. But he wasn't prepared to connect them — yet.

"It'south a small unnerving," said Pair, twenty-six. "But the flames are going to have to thrust people out of here."

Executive aren't forcing people to leave their homes, but are urging them to obtain out before the fire gets any closer, said Susan Heisey, supervisory ranger for the Okefenokee refuge.

As the week opened, more than six hundred firefighters and support personnel were fighting the fire. Helicopters dumping water and tanker planes spraying fire retardant managed to hold the fire from spreading to homes in St. George over the weekend. Firefighters with tractor plows worked to carve a path of bare soil around the town as a barrier to the flames.

Local schools were closed Monday because of the blaze and a shelter was opened at a recreation middle farther away.

Heisey said there was number way to know how long the evacuation order would stand. Emergency executive in neighboring Nassau County, Florida, were urging some residents to prepare in case they necessity asked to evacuate.

James and Lisa Burnsed drove the ten miles from their residence in Moniac to the four-way stop with a tiny grocery on one corner that'south the middle St. George. The fire had jumped across GA Highway ninety-four, their main evacuation route, late Sun and they wanted to look if there was still a clear way out Monday.

"It'south going to have to obtain beautiful near to the house, I think, before we just head out," James Burnsed said. "We've got too much at stake just to leave it."

His wife said they'd necessary documents, family photos and spare clothing packed and prepared to go.

"But we've got goats and chickens," Lisa Burnsed said. "And we don't know how we're going to obtain them out."

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