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Waycross, GA Wildfire Update

 UPDATE 6/3, 7:30am: Rain Helps Fire; But It’s Still Wildfire Season

Nature is a curious thing.  We dread wildfires and we dread hurricanes.  However, yesterday a tropical storm brought some relief to our region.

From First Coast News, Jacksonville: 

Tropical Storm Barry brought some much needed rain to the wildfire that has been burning for weeks on the Florida-Georgia border.

Firefighters said that the rain definitely helped with the Dairy Road fire in Starke, Florida.

“I was just watching the rain through the window, going alright, this is great. I was praying God, just please give us enough rain to help us,” Ellison said.

Mike Work, with the Florida Division of Forestry, said Tropical Storm Barry helped with the fire, but wildfire season is still ongoing.

Work also mentioned that they need three to four more inches of rain.

For further updates, please visit the Waycross Journal-Herald online.

UPDATE 5/25, 11:00pm: Fire Jumps

From Channel 4 News, Jacksonville:

WAYCROSS, Ga. — Strong winds on Thursday afternoon and evening pushed a massive wildfire over fire lines in several locations in southeast Georgia, forcing the evacuation of 15 to 20 homes in Ware County

Forestry officials said the fire jumped lines at Suwannee Chapel Road and was spreading toward the west, about 15 miles south of Waycross.

Residents along Suwannee Chapel Road from Eight Mile Post Road to Swamp Road and Swamp Road from Suwannee Chapel to Jim Cox Road were ordered to evacuate and the roads was closed.

Also see the Waycross Journal Herald.

UPDATE 5/13, 8:00: Wildfire Shuts Down Portions of 1-95

JACKSONVILLE, FL — A fast-moving wildfire has shut down I-95 Northbound from 295 to the Nassau County line.

Traffic is being moved off the interstate and is then being rerouted to US 17.

Nassau County Fire and Rescue Chief Chuck Cooper tells us the fire started in a swamp off of Highway 17 toward Yulee. Fire crews intended to let the fire burn itself out because crews could not get back into the marsh. The fire then started to spread, causing JSO to divert traffic off of I-95.

The fire is about 400 acres in size.

Stay with First Coast News for more on this developing story.

UPDATE 5/13, 6:30am:

According to First Coast News:

South Georgia


  • South Georgia fire that spread into North Florida has consumed over 179,000 acres — 101,290 in Georgia and 78,650 in north Florida
  • Over 116,480 acres have burned in Okefenokee swamp
  • For general information concerning the South Georgia wildfires, call the 24-hour hotline at (912)287-4467.
  • Information on the wildfires and shelters in Charlton County: (912)496-3687
  • Update 5/12, 11:50pm:

    Smoke from a 212,000 acre wildfire burning on the Georgia-Florida border has forced the Florida Highway Patrol to close portions of two major interstates around Lake City. As fire crews were heading back out to the firelines this morning, thick smoke rolled in. It caused several accidents in the area and officials say they had no choice but to close I-10 and I-75.

    The road closures are as follows:


  • I-75 southbound is closed at the Florida-Georgia line.
  • I-75 northbound is closed at US 90 inLake City.
  • I-75 closed at exit 16 in Georgia. Traffic rerouted west on US-84 to Thomasville and then South on US 19.
  • I-10 westbound is closed at Sanderson/US 90 in Baker County.
  • I-10 eastbound is closed at US 90 west of Live Oak.
  • US 129 entrance ramp to I-10 is closed in Live Oak.Motorists with questions are advised to call 511 and follow the prompts to get real-time traffic information on road closures, conditions and detours.


    UPDATE 5/9, 1:50pm:


    RAIN! I hope this is in Waycross, too. We are under a tropical storm warning–normally this would be unsettling, but it is very weak and we need the rain.

    UPDATE 5/9,11:30 am:

    The fire is causing some probable evacuations in Folkston. We hope that the low pressure system in the Atlantic will bring some much needed rain. For ways you can help, please visit Brighter Day Ministries out of Waycross, GA. They have pick up stations in three locations in Camden County: Fire Station 1 on the Kings Bay Naval Sub Base, Station 3 on King St. in Kingsland, and the fire station by the St. Marys Airport.

    From WJH:

    Residents of neighborhoods surrounding Folkston are holding their collective breath as they prepare to move ‹ if necessary ‹ out of the way of the biggest fire in the history of the state.
    Some residents west of Folkston were forced from the security of their homes Tuesday as the fire rushed toward the outskirts of Folkston and the town of Homeland. More than 20 families were evacuated Tuesday afternoon from the Davis Road community as flames made their way out of the swamp and headed toward town, said Robert Farris, interim director of the Georgia Forestry Commission.
    Fueled by winds gusting at more than 20 mph and almost no humidity in the atmosphere, the fire moved through northern portions of Charlton County and headed south toward the more thickly populated communities around Folkston, said Farris. The Davis Road settlement, about eight miles west of downtown Folkston, is home to about 20 families. First Baptist Church of Folkston was opened as a shelter for the Red Cross to house evacuees. Charlton County schools were closed for the day today. “Today is going to be a critical day for us,” said Traci Weaver, public information officer with the North Carolina Forestry Commission. “The weather should be a little more favorable, however, with higher humidity, and there is a slight chance for rain. We have hopes that will be an improvement for firefighters. We hope we can get significant improvement on the fire. This is a dynamic situation with the fire and it could change, even today.” Even residents closer to town were given a heads-up and told to be ready to leave if given the order to evacuate. Areas from Chesser Island Road to Georgia 121, around Grace Chapel Church Road, Spanish Creek Road and Dinkins Road in Folkston and Homeland were included in that notice. Both the Sweat Farm Road-Big Turnaround Fire, which has consumed more than 107,365 acres, and the Buggaboo Swamp Fire in Clinch County, 40,139 acres, continued to move southward Tuesday. The Buggaboo Swamp Fire moved 10 miles Tuesday, crossed Florida Highway 94 in Baker County and threatened homes in the Taylor, Fla. community.
    A weather system located off the Atlantic Coast near the Georgia-Florida border could bring some relief, but weather forecasters are predicting only a 50 percent chance of rain today and less on Thursday. On the downside, the system has associated winds of 15 to 20 mph with stronger gusts, which could add more fuel to the already raging blazes. Weaver continued to ask homeowners to clean around their homes, rake away all pine needles, straw and other debris from close proximity to the structures and to clean off their roofs. She added that sparks from the fire could touch off a blaze it they should land on a pile of dry pine needles or straw. “That’s the only thing I can tell homeowners that may help prevent a fire,” Weaver said. She added that the burn ban continues and urges everyone to refrain from burning any kind of debris.


    UPDATE 5/8, 7:45 pm:

    Some maps of the blazes courtesy of the Okefenokee Post:

    UPDATE 5/8, 11:35 am:

    The Florida fires are becoming more and more troublesome–see this First Coast News article.

    I must rescind my weather forecast from yesterday. According to the Weather Channel, it looks pretty dry, though with a 30% chance of rain tomorrow in Waycross.

    The weather in Folkston (naturally) looks the same. This will make it more difficult for our firefighters.

    UPDATE 5/8, 11:30 am:

    All of the following updates come from the Waycross Journal Herald (news on the fire is getting strangely scarce–it is ironic that such an important story has such a short shelf life as far as ratings and readership are concerned. Thanks, WJH.

    The Monster in Waycross:

    Firefighters continued to burn hundreds of acres of unburned fuel in the Racepond area Monday as winds gusted to 25 mph. The easternmost head of the three-week-old wildfire outside of the Okefenokee Swamp still remains a few miles north of Kingfisher Landing. Firefighters are keeping the blaze headed into the swamp. Residents in the Davis community about eight miles west of Folkston have been put under “precautionary” evacuation status, said Hannah Thompson, of the North Carolina Forestry Division. The evacuation is not mandatory yet, she said, but the possibility exists that they may have to leave their homes at a moment’s notice if fire moves in their direction. And “they believe the front of the fire is heading in that direction,” Thompson said.

    The Sweat Farm Rd-Big Turnaround Fire in Ware and Charlton:

    The Sweat Farm Road-Big Turnaround Fire, which has encompassed 100,315 acres in Ware and Charlton counties, is continuing to move, but at a slower pace as it burns heavy vegetation that has built up in the swamp over many years. Sustained winds of 20 mph from the northeast Monday pushed the fire deeper into the Okefenokee, and that gave firefighters a chance to fortify fire breaks at the swamp’s edge to keep flames from spreading to nearby communities in Ware and Charlton counties.

    Pierce County near Midway Church Road:

    Pierce County residents around Midway Church Road experienced a fire Monday afternoon with huge plumes of smoke visible from a distance. The eastbound lanes of U.S. 84 were closed temporarily while firefighters worked to bring that blaze under control. The fire started just off U.S. 84 between Waycross and Blackshear and burned about 50 acres of land, she said. Officials believe sparks from a train might have been to blame. No structures were damaged, she said. Thompson said another fire in Pierce County around Horseshoe Road Monday burned about an acre before it was brought under control. It, officials believe, was started by a lightning strike.

    Atkinson County–Roundabout Swamp Fire:

    The Roundabout Swamp Fire in Atkinson County has burned 5,857 acres and is about 80 percent contained, she said, adding that 225 firefighting personnel are building fire breaks and continuing to attempt to prevent it from spreading farther. A fire that has burned near Fargo, Thompson said, has almost reached into Florida. That fire is pretty much contained, but it continues to slowly burn south. Weather forecasters are predicting a 40 percent chance of rain Wednesday, accompanied by a forecast for 30 mph winds, which, officials say, could hamper their efforts even more.

    UPDATE 5/7, 2:00 pm:

    Today, no rain but plenty of wind in Ware and Charlton Counties. That means fuel for a fire.

    Isolated T-Storms are expected from Wednesday through the end of the week. That could mean rain, but that could also mean lightning strikes–see the previous update for implications…

    UPDATE 5/7, 2:00 pm:

    According to the Waycross Journal Herald:

    “We can’t allow them to go home until it is safe, and it certainly won’t be today,” said Tracy Weaver, of the Lone Star Incident Command, of Texas.
    Weaver is part of a relief team that recently arrived to spell other personnel who have been in the area for nearly three weeks.
    With low humidity and high winds expected today, firefighters are bracing for flare-ups, said Weaver. She said that 20 mph winds from the northeast that are expected today would likely keep personnel busy.
    “Our big concern for today is the wind with a lot of sleeper fires that could pick up very easily,” Weaver said.
    The significant atmospheric condition over the weekend was lightning. It caused several new fires, but they were put out, she said.
    “With a little rain that was received over the weekend and a lot of lightning strikes, we had a few new fires to flare up,” said Weaver. “There was one new fire on Chicken Farm Road between Waycross and Folkston, but it was held to less than an acre, and we had a lightning strike on the refuge on Bugaboo Island in Clinch County.”
    Weaver said none of the fires that started over the weekend was able to burn a very big area before being brought under control by firefighters.
    A week-old Atkinson County fire was calm Sunday, she said, as was the Kneeknocker Swamp Fire in Brantley County. The Atkinson fire has taken 5,805 acres. The Brantley fire has claimed 3,148 acres.
    “We are experiencing some reburn of some hot spots,” Weaver said. “We are urging people to rake the pine needles from around their homes and keep any combustible materials from piling up.”
    With Georgia Forestry firefighters having been on the fire since it started on April 16, the Texas Lone Star State team has come here to relieve the weary personnel and give them a break, she said.
    “They did the same for us last year (fighting fires in Texas) and we work together really good,” said Weaver. “We have come here to give the Georgia people a break. We operate similarly and we are just here to repay the favor.”
    At last count, she said 471 firefighters remain on the ground in Ware County and 370 in Charlton County.
    U.S. 1 between Folkston and Waycross remains closed because of smoke, and Highway 121 between Hoboken and Racepond is closed, too.
    Ware County schools were open today, following a normal schedule.

    UPDATE 5/7, 8:40a:

    According the Georgia Forestry Commission:

    Total Acreage for Sweat Farm Road-Big Turnaround Fire: 100,421 acres (Sweat Farm Road: 53,899 acres; Big Turnaround: 46,522 acres).


    It is trying very hard to rain here in Camden County. According to the Weather Channel online, it is trying to rain in Waycross and Folkston, too. We pray that it will. We also pray that the lightning will stay away.


    Most roads are open, except U.S. 1 from Kings Roller Rink to Folkston. All evacuees have been allowed to go back home. Schools in Ware and surrounding counties were open Friday, with good expectations to be open Monday.


    Nothing had changed there, he said, and that was not a good omen for the near future. The Roundabout Swamp Fire in Atkinson County is about hot spots in the peat that firefighters cannot get to. They’re just waiting for the wind and the conditions to strengthen them. Unless a lot of rain comes to drown them. Crews are still watching the Kneeknocker Swamp Fire in Brantley, he said.


    UPDATE 5/5, 12:00am Day CHARLTON, WARE

    That’s one of 123 wildfires burning 12,000 acres across Florida. The biggest fire, though, is in Charlton County, Georgia. The wildfire there is now getting close to 100,000 acres.

    The Racepond neighborhood of Charlton County is under a mandatory evacuation as of Friday night. The communities of Uptonville and Mattox are under a fire advisory, which means they should be ready to leave if it becomes necessary.

    As of Friday night, US 1 is closed all the way from Ware County to Charlton County. State Road 15 is shut down from the city of Hoboken to Folkston.
    UPDATE 5/1, 9:26am Day 15 CHARLTON, WARE, ATKINSON

    I have no info on whether Atkinson County schools will be open tomorrow.

    From the Ware County School District:

    Ware County Schools will be closed on Wednesday, May 2. All principals, secretaries, central office staff, and 12 month employees are asked to report to work. All other staff members are asked to remain home. We will continue to make decisions on the re-opening of school on a day to day basis. I encourage you to check our school system web page or listen for the phone message announcements.

    From the Charlton County School System:

    Effective on Wednesday, May 2nd, all schools
    will resume their normal schedules.

    According to Channel 4 News, Jacksonville:

    Weather remains in control of a massive wildfire that has burned over 135 square miles of southeast Georgia over the past two weeks, but a wind shift on Tuesday brought good news to residents of Folkston.

    After the fire had spread within 15 miles of Folkston, firefighters said winds from the south and east began pushing the fire back into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, and area that is already charred.
    Gov. Sonny Perdue made his second visit in as many weeks to the fire line Tuesday afternoon, declaring Ware and Brantley counties federal disaster areas.
    The news was not as good in Atkinson County, west of Waycross, where all state routes and schools were closed as a 4,200-acre wildfire was burning out of control.
    The Forestry Commission suspects at least three fires may have been set by arsonists. One of them ignited last week behind the firefighters’ command post on U.S. 1 near the Okefenokee Swamp Park.

    UPDATE 5/1, 9:26am Day 15 CHARLTON

    Some very important information for the Charlton County area courtesy of the Okefenokee Post:

    At this time only the Racepond is under a mandatory evacuation order.

    The Uptonville and Mattox area is under a Fire Advisory under a Fire Advisory, you should stay vigilant and listen for Emergency Responders.

    Fire Advisory roads are; Grace Chapel Road, Spanish Creek Road to Prospect Raod and the Ralph Davis Road.

    The fire is under constant watch by Fire Fighters and Law Enforcement.

    A shelter for public evacuees has been set up at Folkston Elementary School located on Highway 121.

    Daily assessments will be made and announced concerning the closing of schools.

    Road closures; US # 1 from Folkston to Waycross. Highway 121 from Racepond to Hoboken.

    Please use extreme caution and use low beam headlights when driving in areas with smoke.


    The fire in Waycross has now consumed 125 miles–it is between 64-70 percent contained (depending on your sources). Ware and Charlton County schools are in session today but with a 1 hour delay. Governor Sonny Perdue will do a flyover visit today.

    Curiously, some officials, according to First Coast News, are suspicious of the cause of the satellite fires (Folkston, etc). They will investigate.
    A portion of Charlton County has been evacuated and others are on a fire watch.Officials said if the fire gets out of the swamp, it would spread quickly and that they are ready to protect structures if that happens. More than 800 firefighters remain on the job.

    Theresa Coleman, United Methodist pastor just outside of Atlanta, laments on the overall state of the Georgia drought, gasoline prices, and the overall affect on Georgia farming.


    From FCN:

    Fire crews who have been on the front lines for several weeks near Waycross are shifting their attention to the southeast as the 80,000 acre fire grows toward the town of Folkston.

    the fire is burning toward Folkston, some 12 miles away. At the moment, the leading edge of the fire is flaring all along U.S. Highway 1 southeast of Waycross.

    U.S. 1 is the scene of a major battle. Dozens of firefighting teams and heavy equipment are along the highway, ready to move in. Firefighting helicopters are also using the area for landings and takeoffs.

    So far, fire crews have kept the blaze from crossing U.S. 1.

    U.S. 1 has become the most crucial fire break along the most dangerous edge of the fire.

    Crews don’t expect to even contain this fire for two more weeks. Putting it out is a secondary priority behind protecting people and property. The stretch of asphalt that makes up U.S. 1 is the key to that plan of attack.

    “A fire of this size and intensity, we have to utilize what’s already there to help us get it stopped,” Haire said.

    The Georgia Forestry Commission has set up an information center where the public can have questions answered and hear about any updates on the fire’s progress. It’s at Folkston City Hall, just off U.S. 1 in Folkston.

    Also, both U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue are expected to visit the area over the next two days.

    Firefighters also worked to contain two smaller, unrelated wildfires in neighboring Charlton and Brantley Counties. At least nine families were evacuated in Charlton County. About 1,300 acres have burned in Brantley County just east of Ware County, and the fire there was about 50 percent contained as of Monday.


    A trusted friend of mine in Folkston says:

    “No homes have been lost to my knowledge at this time [in Folkston or Homeland]. They are moving the “command center” down to Folkston to be closer to the fire. They are using the old gym and parking lot of the football stadium as their staging area. The only request I have had so far is for volunteers to help man the center; to basically act as greeters for the firefighters and helping them get something to drink, eat and other things. I don’t know any more right now. If you have any interested…they are asking for 4 hours shifts, starting May 1 @ 8:00 AM…”

    UPDATE 4/30, 3:00 pm: Day 14 Waycross, Charlton, Atkinson,and Brantley County

    According to First Coast News:

    Wind gusts fanned 100-foot flames into treetops today as firefighters continued to battle a wildfire that has burned 125 square miles of southeast Georgia forest and swampland in the past two weeks.

    The fire has burned 80-thousand acres in the Okefenokee Swamp and surrounding forest in Ware County, making it the largest wildfire in Georgia history.
    About 13-hundred acres had burned in Brantley County just east of Ware County, and the fire there was about 50 percent contained. She did not know the acreage of the fire in Charlton County.

    Meanwhile, a fire that broke out Saturday in an Atkinson County peat bog about 30 miles west of Waycross has burned about 35-hundred acres.

    UPDATE 4/30, 1:20 pm: Day 14

    From the WJH:

    The Sweat Farm Road Fire and the Big Turnaround Fire (which spun off of the Sweat Farm Road Fire) now have company … lots of it.
    Georgia Forestry officials said today that 16 new fires in southeast Georgia have flared up since Friday. With matchbox dry conditions prevailing and no rain at all in the foreseeable future, more fires are bound to ignite in the coming days and weeks.
    Still, firefighters are optimistic that the fires can be dealt with ‹ not put out anytime soon, but contained ‹ with very little further loss to residences and other structures. There has been no loss of life and very few injuries.
    The Big Turnaround Fire, now burning in Ware and Charlton counties along U.S. 1, is the biggest threat in the region. The only other significant fire is one that started in Atkinson County over the weekend. So far, 3,500 acres have been burned there, said a Georgia Forestry official.

    Be in continued prayer over our region! Rain, please, rain.

    The entire region faces not only fear, but certain danger as smoke and ash are polluting the air. A fellow Camden County Resident shares his story.

    UPDATE 4/30, 8:30am: Day 14

    Ware County schools open 1 hour late today.

    Charlton County schools will not be open today.

    The Waycross fire has been contained to 70%. The estimate according to First Coast News is a total of 82,000 acres. Officials believe that strong winds and drought conditions will cause the fire to burn for about another week.

    Two more wildfires broke out early this morning in counties near the main fire — one in Charlton County near the line with Ware County and one on the line of Brantley and Glynn counties. The are not connected with the wildfire near Waycross. I’ll try to have updates on those later.
    UPDATE 4/29, 9:30pm: Here are a few firsthand videos of the wildfire.

    A series of still photographs set to John Mayer. Heartbreaking image of a family watching the fire endanger their home…

    A series of video and stills summarizing the fire.

    A tribute to Camden County Firefighters who have gone on to fight the blaze. It gives me great pride to know that those in my community have responded like this.

    From the dash cam of the Chief’s vehicle from Camden County Fire Rescue.

    UPDATE 4/29, 8:30pm: This is a view of the fire from space:

    Courtesy of RedOrbit.

    Here is another:

    Here is another from the Modis Rapid Fire Response System.

    Dew Drops in GA writes about weather in South Georgia…

    UPDATE 4/29, 8:00pm: As of tonight the fire is at 70% containment; it has burned over 68,000 acres of land.

    From First Coast News , Jacksonville:

    Firefighters say they have spent most of the day Sunday setting backfires and widening clear zones. They’re doing this to make sure the ground that has already burned does not rekindle. Tonight winds are pushing that massive fire south. That’s bringing relief to people in Waycross who’ve spent nearly two weeks now fleeing their homes, and returning sometimes even hours later. Tonight, people in Brantley County and Charlton County are on edge as the fire pushes their direction.

    We are told Ware County will make a decision about whether schools will be closed Sunday night.

    All road closures have been lifted except us highway 1 between mile marker 1 and 16 and state route 177.

    Please join the people of the Greater Faith Temple Prayer Group, and all others, in praying for rain and peace.

    UPDATE 4/28, 2:30pm: The picture to the right (courtesy of First Coast News) shows the wildfires of 2007. BTW, Camden County is my home (bottom right) and smoke is in the air right now–probably from the Monster in Waycross.

    UPDATE 4/28, 11:00am: Reports today say that the fire remains 50% contained after destroying 95 miles or land. Folks in Nahunta were unable to return home yesterday–we have strong hopes for today. The nearly 700 firefighters who have been working to fight “The Monster” are growing weary. Please pray for them.

    UPDATE 4/27, 11:00: The forecast for tomorrow in Waycross, GA: winds 5-10 mph, and chance for precipitation only 10%

    UPDATE 4/27, 9:25pm:

    There has been a good bit of activity today, some good and some bad. It would be best to quote the sources for you:

    According to the Waycross Journal-Herald:

    In the past 11 days, since the April 16 start to the wildfire saga on Sweat Farm Road, fires have blackened 95 square miles (or about 61,100 acres) of parched forest and swamp.

    Weather forecasters call for a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms today.

    Officials closed 16 miles of U.S. 1 and the railroad tracks running alongside it Thursday afternoon. The road and tracks remain closed today. Over 100 houses have been evacuated along U.S. 1.

    The fire on the swamp side of U.S. 1 is burning close to the railroad tracks in some places, officials said. Hot embers are flying around in the swamp areas and causing small fires. Firefighters are trying to keep the fire from crossing U.S. 1 by using a tactic called “tater-patching,” a process of digging a series of small narrow trenches. Firefighters have been able to put out most of these small fires.

    Meanwhile other fires flared into existence Thursday in the area and immediately became problems, one in Bacon County near its Pierce County edge along Ga. 32, one in Brantley County.

    The Kneeknocker Swamp Fire outside Nahunta that firefighters contained last week began raging again, spreading about four miles along U.S. Highway 301.

    In Ware County, no structures have been damaged or destroyed since last week when 18 homes burned.

    According to First Coast News, Jacksonville:

    Valdosta firefighter Jeff Thibodeau says: “It’s aggravating, because you just want to grab it by the throat and put it out,” Thibodeau said after coming off his shift Friday morning. “This fire is so big, there’s not enough water in the state of Georgia to put it out. All you can do is let it run its course in the woods and protect the structures.”

    UPDATE 4/26, 8:00pm: According to Channel 4 News, Jacksonville, FL:

    Everyone in the communities of Astoria and Goat Farm, along with Laura Walker State Park and the Lion’s Club Camp for the Blind was strongly advised to leave as the fire that has consumed 93 square miles over 10 days spreads to the northeast.

    UPDATE 4/26, 11:50am: The fire remained at 50 percent containment this morning, an official with Georgia Forestry said, after consuming a total of 61,109 acres. To date, a total of $2,858,433 has been spent fighting the fire. Todays winds are supposed to be 10-20mph. This could have negative effects on the spread of the fire.

    UPDATE 4/25, 11:50am:

    The fire has jumped over Georgia Highway 177 and moved into the Okefenokee Swamp area. This is has many implications, one of which is the abundance of palmetto fuel in the area. The fire spread due to continual dry weather and a southerly wind change.

    Estimated damage, despite this recent spread, has been reduced to 53,000 acres–helicopters came up with more accurate figures after an infrared flyover last night. For more info, visit the Waycross Journal-Herald.

    UPDATE 4/25 10:19am: Here is a list of UM churches in Waycross if you wish to check on their well-being and/or offer assistance.

    UPDATE 6:00pm 4/24:

    No new evacuations were ordered today. School will be in session in Ware County tomorrow, but it will start an hour late–therefore, buses will pick up an hour later. Here is the First Coast News video story from the 6:00 newscast.

    From Topix.net, the Waycross edition:

    “If we have normal weather from the remainder of the spring through the summer, conditions will continue to deteriorate”

    Drought conditions have worsened from severe to extreme in 20 southern Georgia counties, the state climatologist said Tuesday as the South suffers through an unusually dry spring.

    Some parts of southern Georgia have rainfall deficits of more than 10 inches for the year. Rivers and streams in the region are showing record-low flows for April, said David Stooksbury, Georgia’s state climatologist.

    In 16 counties in southern Georgia and 17 counties in the northwest part of the state the drought is categorized as severe.


    The smoke has extended 350 miles north to Chattanooga, Tennesee.

    The Waycross Journal-Herald online is publishing a day-by-day account of the fire in Waycross, GA.

    Today is day 9.

    The wildfire is still about 45% contained but officials feel that late yesterday (only 30 acres burned) and today may be a turning point.

    Evacuees living north of Needham Rd. and north of Eight Mile Post Rd. can return home. Others have already heard the call to return and others will hear it soon. Though the condition of many of these homes is unknown, heavy smoke infiltration can be expected. Any local resident may call the non-emergency fire hotline at (912) 287-4467.

    Ware county schools are closed again today.

    Fire fighters have fared well so far. There have been a few injuries including two cases of heat exhaustion, stomach problems, a hand laceration, and a broken leg.

    If you would like to help the firefighters, you can follow suit with Camden County’s FBLA organization and donate the following items to the Ware County Fire Department:

    Visine (eye drops)
    Non-wax Lip Balm
    Baby Wipes
    Hand Sanitizer
    Energy Bars

    I have no news yet on how our local UM’s are faring and how they are assisting this situation.

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