Wildfire Batters South Georgia, Arsonist Sought

By: Gabrielle Sarann Email
By: Gabrielle Sarann Email

As more of the Arabia Bay becomes engulfed in fire, emergency crews are working to reinforce the fire breaks.

Prepared to rush in for any emergencies.

"There have not been any evacuations that I'm aware of in the immediate area," said Ken Davis, with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA).

Tractors are taking down dead trees along the outskirts of the swamp to prevent them from fueling the fire.

And to protect structures like the 200-year-old Arabia Bay cemetery, firefighters are building a double fire break as an extra line of defense.

Firefighters are working day and night to keep the monster fire, now 2,700 acres, at a safe distance.

In downtown Homerville, heavy smoke is blanketing the area.

"The bay fire is puttin' out a lot of smoke right now," said Paul Robertson, with the Georgia Forestry Commission. "And we're having road closures generally in the mornings. And as the wind shifts, the smoke will travel to different parts of the state."

At nearby Clinch Health Care, a nursing home that looks after 80 elderly residents, an evacuation plan is in place.

Staff is monitoring the situation carefully.

"We're telling our residents that like to get out some, to stay in today and watch the amount of smoke that's in the air," said Cindy Trotter, the facility's associate director of nursing.

For Georgians, a possible cold front moving in Friday could intensify the smoke and close more roads.

But most are optimistic it won't be a repeat of the 2007 Waycross Fire that scorched more than 100,000 acres.

"We would hope they don't even reach the levels of the Waycross Fire," said Robertson. "We're keeping a close eye on this fire."

Investigators encourage anyone with tips about who may have caused the fire, to call the Georgia Forestry Commission at 1-800-428-7337.

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the arsonist's conviction.

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