Weeks of heavy rain that have drenched much of the Southeast have been a blessing at a wildlife refuge that straddles the Georgia-Florida state line. Officials at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge say it's enjoying a swamp water level about a foot higher than average and low fire anxiety.
Georgia fire officials say, less than 100 fire personnel will be working the Okefenokee Swamp's Honey Praire Fire by this weekend. The officials say, they are "right-sizing" fire-fighting efforts based on ground conditions. At its worst, fire-figters and support staff numbered about 1,000.
A wildfire burning out of control in southeast Georgia a few miles west of Waycross has raced across nearly 8 square miles in less than a day, forcing some rural residents to evacuate. Jonathan Daniel, emergency management director for Ware County, said Thursday about 75 homes were evacuated overnight. He says residents of about 25 homes have been unable to return because the flames are still too close.
Firefighters have contained 55% of the massive blaze burning in the Okefenokee Swamp. Progress came quickly this week as wind, humidity and temperatures combined to allow crews to start controlled burns to corral the blaze. The fire has consumed the refuge's lower third.
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.