Parts of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge are reopening to visitors this weekend after being closed for nearly six weeks by a vast wildfire that continues to burn in remote areas of the swamp. Spokeswoman Wendy Burnett says firefighters hope to declare the fires contained next week.
Wildfires burning in southeast Georgia’s Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge are creating smoky conditions for locals. The Georgia Forestry Commission says people with respiratory issues should stay inside. And drivers on highways 82, 84, and 280 may have trouble seeing through smoke.
Authorities say two wildfires burning in south Georgia are now mostly contained. Authorities say the Race Pond Fire south of Waycross is more than 60 percent contained. And the blaze near the Okefenokee, the Honey Prairie, is more than 80 percent under control.
While the fire mostly has been contained, the aerial videos date from the fire's early weeks, when it appeared more dramatic from the air. The videos come from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Forestry Commission. They were uploaded to a public website on May 20.
Population growth and development are the main threats to forest land in the South. In a new study, federal forestry officials say Georgia and surrounding states can expect to lose 23 million acres of land over the next five decades—more than 20 percent. But it’s not only urbanization as a reason--weather patterns, bioenergy use and invasive species are also dangers.
Firefighters have made progress containing wildfires in four southeast Georgia counties that have already burned more than 53 square miles. Crews made significant progress on the fire burning in Long County, but fires near Waycross and Homerville are still advancing.
Firefighters have contained several large wildfires burning in Dade, Lumpkin, Brantley, Clinch and Lanier counties. In the last seven days, Georgia Forestry Commission crews have battled 627 fires covering 5,300 acres.