[UPDATE] 11-18 2:10pm --
PERRY DISTRICT DIVISION OF FORESTRY Release – This advisory is provided to media outlets and Emergency Operations Centers in Taylor, Dixie, Madison and Lafayette Counties in Florida.
The large swamp fire burning in northern Clinch County, Georgia in an area known as Arabia Bay Swamp continues to burn and smoke is coming into our area. The fire is northwest of Homerville, GA and currently is estimated at 870 acres in size. This is a ground fire which means it is smoldering below the surface and is producing a large volume of smoke. Winds out of the North will carry the smoke into our area. In fact, Suwannee Forestry Center has received reports of smoke from Hamilton, Suwannee, and Columbia Counties.
The Florida Division of Forestry is monitoring the fire activity which is not expected to have a direct impact in Florida. However, smoke from a swamp fire can be very heavy and can continue for a long time. Residents should be aware of the potential for smoke in our area. If area drivers encounter smoke on the highway, they should slow down, turn on their headlights and proceed with caution. They should follow the direction of public safety officials who may be present.
The Perry District Division of Forestry is responsible for wildfire suppression and landowner assistance in Taylor, Dixie, Madison and Lafayette Counties in North Florida.
[UPDATE] 11-18 2:10pm --
South Health District Release:
Due to the prediction of an increase in smoke in our area throughout the weekend, South Health District is reminding residents about the health advisory for Lowndes, Cook and surrounding counties due to the Arabia Bay Fire in Clinch County. South Georgians are encouraged to take precautions to avoid health problems related to smoky conditions caused by the fire.
Information received from Georgia Forestry predicts the heaviest smoke conditions are expected Friday night into Saturday for Lowndes and Cook Counties.
Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.
Smoke can cause irritated sinuses, coughing, shortness of breath, headaches, stinging eyes and a runny nose. People with heart or lung disease, and pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma may experience more intense symptoms such as chest pain, fatigue, a cough with or without mucus, and a rapid heartbeat.
South Georgians experiencing any of the above symptoms or have a pre-existing condition are encouraged to:
Limit outdoor activities.
Avoid cooking and vacuuming, which can increase pollutants indoors.
Avoid physical exertion.
Keep airways moist by drinking plenty of water.
Asthmatics should follow their asthma management plan.
Contact your local healthcare provider if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue.
For more information visit www.southhealthdistrict.com or www.cdc.gov.
Eyewitness News --
Buck Kline knows where there's smoke there's fire... but putting out this blaze is a problem of it's own.
"It's a swamp on fire. We did try the day the fire started to put a control line around the fire itself. Our suppression units became stuck even bogged down and posed a threat to firefighters so we had to pull them out," said Kline a Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger Senior.
Since then the wildfires burned more than 650 acres. Officials say the fire is burning at 100 acres a day and are hoping the weather lends a hand.
"We got to have a lot of rain, a quarter inch of rain is not going to help us, we need six plus inches to affect it, to put the fire out," said Kline.
Officials say what makes this fire so dangerous is the fact that they're fighting both a surface and a ground fire. The surface fire has already been through here where it's burn down the trees and everything. But right now there's still a ground fire which means there's a fire burning right under my feet.
And Clay Tomlinson has seen this before.
"It's just a repeat of nature all over again," said Tomlinson.
Back in 2001, a wildfire burned through the Arabia Bay threatening Tomlinson's parent's home. And now it's happening again.
"We're very much concerned about the loss of our homes and our property as small homeowners when a small fire a forest fire comes through it destroys timber, most landowners can't overcome that," said Tomlinson.
Tomlinson's hoping just like nine years ago, they'll get the rain they need to put out this blaze.
Dontaye Carter, WCTV, Eyewitness News, Clinch County.,