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[UPDATE] South Georgia Wildfires

By: Eyewitness News; AP Email
By: Eyewitness News; AP Email

[UPDATE] 4/1 at 7:00 p.m. by Dontaye Carter-

The Georgia Forestry Commission says the wildfire in the Arabia Bay is 75-percent contained.

Officials say the rain helped them to contain more of this fire than it did in November.

Nearly 12,500 acres has been burned.

Firefighters say the fire hasn't increased since it started raining a few days ago.

Friday afternoon, officials flew over the fire to get a better look at it.

They say they EXPECT to have the fire fully contained by April 6th.
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[UPDATE] 3/28 at 6:12 p.m. by Gabrielle Sarann --

Georgia Forestry officials say the Arabia Bay Fire is now 45-percent contained to 12,484 acres, which means it's not considered a threat to area homes.

Still, fire investigators are reinforcing breaks around the bay in case the fire becomes active again.

Officials are calling recent rainstorms a blessing.

"It's keeping the fire behavior, keepin' it low," said Denise Croker, PIO for the Georgia Forestry Commission. She added, "So, you're not seeing 100-foot flames and you're not seeing active fires. You're seeing a lot of smoke."

Fire investigators estimate at least eight to 10 inches of steady rain is needed to completely put the wildfire out.

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[UPDATE] 3-27 4:17 PM--

ATLANTA (AP) -- Thunderstorms rumbled through southeastern Georgia but provided only scattered rain to help crews working around the clock to battle wildfires.

Georgia Forestry Commission spokesman Eric Mosley said Sunday that the storms were accompanied by winds that caused some flare-ups.

By Sunday afternoon, Mosely blaze in Clinch County had burned about 21 square miles, while the blaze in Bacon and Ware counties had consumed around 25 square miles. A smaller blaze in Long County had burned just over 6 square miles and three homes.

Mosely said there were reports of some new starts Sunday, including one near Darien in McIntosh County, but it hadn't been determined how they started.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday declared a state of emergency because of the fires.
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[UPDATE] 3-26 6:19 PM--

ATLANTA (AP) -- Crews battling three wildfires across Georgia were expecting winds to cause flare-ups.

Georgia Forestry Commission spokesman Eric Mosley said Saturday that firefighters were working to get control of three blazes across southeastern Georgia.

Mosley said fires were expected to flare-up in the afternoon and evening when the wind from approaching storms drives embers into new areas.

The blaze in Clinch County has burned 16,000 acres, while the blaze in Bacon and Ware counties has consumed around 13,600 acres. A smaller blaze in Long County has burned about 4,000 acres and
three homes.

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency Friday because of the fires.

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UPDATE 3-25

A statewide restriction on outdoor burning has been issued by the Georgia Forestry Commission, due to dangerous fire conditions that require all available firefighting resources. Burn permits will not be issued until conditions improve.

"We appreciate the patience of every Georgian as we work to contain these fires," said Alan Dozier, Chief of Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission. "While conditions for burning might be favorable in some areas, in many others they are not. With our Rangers already fighting several fires in the southern part of the state, we just cannot risk additional outbreaks by granting burn permits in any location."

The burn restriction will be in place through Monday, March 28, according to Dozier.

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UPDATE 3-25

FEMA AUTHORIZES FEDERAL FUNDS TO HELP BATTLE GEORGIA WILDFIRES

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has authorized federal funds to reimburse costs to Georgia to fight the Mosley Road Fire in Coffee County and the Elan Church Road Fire in Long County.

This authorization makes FEMA funding available to reimburse 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs under an approved grant for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire. Eligible costs can include equipment and supplies (less insurance proceeds) and costs for emergency work such as evacuations and sheltering, police barricading and traffic control.

“FEMA approved these grants to make sure that Georgia has the money to fight these fires and save lives, structures and property,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Phil May. “Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers go out to families who’ve been affected.”

The state requested the Fire Management Assistance Grants (FMAG) during the late evening of March 24 and they were granted at 3:45 a.m. on March 25.

The Mosley Road fire began on March 24 and at the time of the FMAG request, had burned 1,500 acres of State and private land, while threatening more than 50 homes and five businesses. Currently, the fire is less than 30 percent contained and has forced the evacuation of 250 local residents.

The Elan Church Fire also began on March 24 and has burned 750 acres of land. The fire has forced over 300 evacuations while threatening 89 residences, a nursing home, a correctional facility and five businesses in and around Ludowici, GA, which has a total population of 1,555. Like the Mosley Road Fire, the Elan Church Fire is less than 30 percent contained at this time.

Federal fire management assistance is provided through the President’s Disaster Relief Fund and made available by FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause a major disaster. Eligible state firefighting costs covered by the aid must first meet a minimum threshold for costs before assistance is provided.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

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[UPDATE] 3-25 5:00pm

"It was really scary."

Flames and smoke forced Vira McRae from her Homerville home Thursday night around 10:30 as emergency crews rushed to get her and her family to safety.

"Fire, just flames of fire and smoke lots of fire trucks," said McRae.

The Georgia Forestry says the wildfire broke containment in the Arabia Bay around four Thursday afternoon burning it's way through Clinch County.

Early Friday in McRae's backyard small bits of the fire was still burning. The fire Thursday night came just feet away from her home, burning through her shed and other equipment in her backyard."

Emergency crews were able to stop the fire from burning down any of the homes in the area.

Officials say the fire swept across Highway 441 so fast it's a miracle they didn't lose any homes.

McRae's sister, Clara Smith agrees.

"Man, it was amazing. I would've never thought anybody's house could survive this, there's just fire on each side of the road," said Smith. "Even when you turn off to come inside the road there's fire. So, it's just a miracle that everything was safe, it was just a miracle. I was devastated."

Workers are still working to hold back the fire.

Officials tell me their hope was to have the fire contained by Friday night .

Fortunately, No one has been injured.
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[UPDATE] 3-25 2:56pm -- Clinch County, Ga. (Eyewitness News) --

The fire has burned through more than 7,000 acres. The fire is still moving east, just north of Highway 84, according to GA Forestry Commission PIO Eric Mosley.
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[UPDATE] 3-25 Noon -- Clinch County, Ga. (Eyewitness News) --

Officials say the fire broke containment around 4 p.m. yesterday (Thursday).

No injuries.

About 10 to 12 homes were at risk yesterday. Firefighters were able to save the homes and they’re no longer in danger.

Officials say 5,000 acres have burned so far.

Officials say this fire is related to the Arabia Bay wildfire that started last November. They now say that fire was never fully extinguished and that it reignited yesterday (Thursday).

Hwy 441 is closed from Homerville to Atkinson County.

Hwy 122 is closed from Cogdale to hwy 64.

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[UPDATE] 3-25 11:06am -- Clinch County, Ga. (Eyewitness News) --

5,000 acres have burned so far, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission. The fire began as a controlled burn that escaped containment. Authorities say they hope to have the fire contained by tonight.

The Georgia DOT warns motorists of smoke in multiple counties in South Georgia. Motorists could encounter low visibility problems on roadways. Fires in Long, Coffee, and Clinch counties are causing visibility problems due to low lying smoke.

Motorists should exercise extreme caution. Drivers should be prepared for possible delays, unscheduled road closures and detours. Georgia DOT urges travelers to call 511 for updated information about road problems due to smoke.

The Georgia DOT warns motorists of smoke in multiple counties in South Georgia. The counties include:

Appling County

Atkinson County

Coffee County

Clinch County

Echols County

Glynn County

Lanier County

Long County

Lowndes County

McIntosh County

Ware County

Wayne County

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[UPDATE] 3-25 10:10am -- LUDOWICI, Ga. (AP) --

The sheriff of Long County says at least 10 homes have been destroyed by a wildfire that's burned more than 1,000 acres in southeast Georgia.

Sheriff Cecil Nobles said firefighters had contained the blaze
by Friday morning after spending most of the night battling flames
spread by dry winds. He says there are no reports of injuries. He
estimates about 100 people had to be evacuated from their homes
overnight.

The sheriff says the fire began as a controlled burn that quickly got out of control late Thursday afternoon as winds spread flames into surrounding trees. The total area burned exceeds 1 1/2 square miles.

The Georgia Forestry Commission says it has ceased issuing burn
permits as dry conditions have sparked a number of wildfires in
southeast Georgia.

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[UPDATE] 3-25 9:27am --

The Georgia DOT announces road closures due to the fire. Click on the attachment above to see a list of closures.

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Clinch County, GA - Eric Mosley, public information officer for the GA Forestry Commission, tells WCTV that a fire crossed Hwy 122, threatening homes in NW Homerville.

Moisley says engines are on the scene and will continue to be overnight and tomorrow as they suspect it will take that long to contain the fire. The owners of the homes threatened have been notified by authorities.

Moisley adds that wind is to blame for spreading the fire but no cause of the fire has been determined. No one has been reported injured.

Fire officials also say current weather conditions have made it ripe for fires to start up in Georgia. Those conditions are high winds and low humidity. Moisley says the most common cause of wildfires stems from careless debris burning.


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