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Georgia wildfires

Atlanta City Detention Center
Alison Guillory / WABE

Thursday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

John Bazemore / associated press file

Wildfires this summer are expected to be most severe in southwestern U.S. states, Florida, Georgia and in some parts of California and Nevada, forecasters said Monday.


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The summer 2017 fire outlook issued by the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise also said heavy winter snow and spring rains that flooded many Western states will probably delay the onset of this season's worst wildfires.


Massive Wildfire May Be A Good Thing For Georgia Swamp

May 1, 2017
John Bazemore / Associated Press

While the massive wildfire on the Georgia-Florida line has burned more than 100,000 acres so far, it may actually be good for the area.

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Parts of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge have been burning for almost a month after a lightning strike caused a fire.

Wildfires Continue To Scorch Parts Of South Georgia

Apr 24, 2017
Firefighters spent more than two months battling wildfires in north Georgia and in Tennessee this fall.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia’s wildfire season is underway, and true to form, a major blaze is burning land in the southern part of the state.

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The West Mims fire has scorched more than 36,000 acres around the Okefenokee Swamp.

It's just over 4 percent contained.

South Georgia Wildlife Refuge Bans Grills, Campfires

Apr 13, 2017
skeeze / Pixabay

A fire ban at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge means charcoal grills and campfires are off limits.

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The refuge, which sits on the Georgia-Florida line, has been fighting the huge swamp fire for several days. The refuge is also still in the middle of a drought.

Susan Heisey, Okefenokee's supervisory ranger, said Easter weekend is the park's busiest time of year.

Wildfires Burned In North Ga. Over Christmas Weekend

Dec 27, 2016
Firefighters spent more than two months battling wildfires in north Georgia and in Tennessee this fall.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

The U.S. Forest Service is keeping watch on a new wildfire in the Chattahoochee National Forest.

It says a fire that broke out over the weekend in Lumpkin County, between Blairsville and Dahlonega, has burned about 200 acres. It's no longer spreading, but because of drought conditions there is always the chance it could flare back up.

Judy Toppins with the U.S. Forest Service says a vehicle started that fire as well as one in Union County near the Richard Russell Scenic Highway.

Firefighters spent more than two months battling wildfires in north Georgia and in Tennessee this fall.
John Bazemore / Associated Press


It took months of hard work, but fire crews in north Georgia can now claim victory. They've reached total containment in the region.

"You know, we've had some wonderful rain and it's knocked the fires back and greatly diminished our immediate risk of wildfires, but we're not out of the drought yet, believe it or not.  So we still ask people to be cautious, understand where we are," said Wendy Burnett, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

David Goldman / Associated Press

After going about a month and a half without significant rain, metro Atlanta got about an inch this weekend.

And more is on the way.

The metro Atlanta area is expected to get nearly an inch and a half of rain Monday and Tuesday.

Officials will be monitoring creek and river levels to see how much the rain is helping.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is still dealing with a deadly wildfire, but here in Georgia the two largest fires are dwindling.

Over the last month or so, wildfires in Fannin and Rabun counties burned up about 50,000 acres of forest.

Now, though, firefighting crews say the North Georgia fires, which didn’t cause any structural damage or injuries, are on their way out.

"We were able to do some good work and get the containment lines built around the fire," said Debbie Carlisi, a spokesperson with National Forest Service. "And then of course the rain helped."

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

After more than two months, north Georgia is finally seeing drops of water falling from the sky.

"Everybody is doing a happy dance, we are just thrilled to get some rain," said Wendy Burnett, a spokeswoman with the Georgia Forestry Commission.

And although the crews and officials said the rain is helping crews, there are still concerns.

“We don’t anticipate that having a huge impact on our overall fire activity in North Georgia just because of the deep drought that we’ve been in for quite some time,” said Hannah Cowart, a GFC official.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

Jeremy Willoughby is with a crew contracted by the National Forest Service. They’re on the side of a gravel road in the Cohutta Wilderness, where the largest wildfire in Georgia is burning.

They’re spraying water onto soil that’s covered in ash, which Willoughby said is the char from them intentionally burning the ground cover.

“So what we want to do is grid this where we burned out up to a hundred feet, eliminating any heat, putting water on it and mixing it up,” Willoughby said.

Firefighters spent more than two months battling wildfires in north Georgia and in Tennessee this fall.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Crews made progress against the wildfires in North Georgia this weekend.

The Rough Ridge fire, the largest current wildfire in the state with roughly 28,000 acres scorched, is now 55 percent contained.

“Resources include: four crews, two helicopters, 12 engines and two water-tenders and working with two dozers,” said Frank Sanguinedo, with the U.S. Forest Service. 

Sanguinedo said fire lines there are holding and as crews continued to monitor spots and remove debris.

This Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, photo, shows prices in the toy section at Wal-Mart in Teterboro, N.J.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Friday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Lisa Hagen

Thursday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Firefighters spent more than two months battling wildfires in north Georgia and in Tennessee this fall.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Wednesday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

A haze hovers over the downtown skyline from a wildfire burning in the northwest part of the state, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, in Atlanta.
AP Photo/David Goldman

State health officials said they've seen an increase this past week in emergency room visits because of asthma and other respiratory issues as wildfires continue to burn in parts of north Georgia. 

"The likelihood is strong that smoke is causing at least part of this," said Dr. Patrick O'Neal, director of health protection at the Georgia Department of Public Health. "It's not uncommon to see some increase in respiratory issues that show in November, December every year but this has been higher than normal."

Metro Atlanta Still Dealing With Wildfire Smoke

Nov 16, 2016
Lewis Levine / Associated Press

The fire in north Georgia's Cohutta Wilderness area is now 30 percent contained, but it's already burned more than 23,000 acres.  

Altogether, wildfires have burned a total of 80,000 acres throughout the Southeast, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

And the smoke continues to spread to the Atlanta area.

State officials declared a code red air quality alert on Wednesday. That means the air is expected to be unhealthy for everyone.

Georgians are advised to limit their time outdoors today and especially take it easy on any strenuous activity outdoors.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

Monday on "Closer Look with Rose Scott and Jim Burress":

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

As smoke hangs in the air, Fire Station One in Clayton, Georgia, is bustling with the county’s emergency workers.

“This is pretty unprecedented in all of our careers. Fires this size,” said Justin Upchurch, assistant fire chief in Rabun County.

Wildfires are ravaging North Georgia. Now it has led the U.S. Forest Service to call for evacuations in parts of the county.

Upchurch’s staff has been working 12-16 hour shifts to protect homes and structures, as the Forest Service and its team from around the country try to contain fires.

Lewis Levine / Associated Press

Wildfires are still causing major problems throughout the South, including in Georgia.

More than 13,000 acres of land in north Georgia are scorched, and fire crews are having problems getting the upper hand.

That blaze near the Georgia-Tennessee border is only about 20 percent contained.

And the weather isn't helping fire crews.

Hadi Mizban / Associated Press

You may have heard there’s something special in the skies this morning. It’s the supermoon, so called because it’s a full moon at the closest point in its orbit to Earth.

But astronomically, it turns out the super moon isn’t really a big deal. Tellus Science Center Astronomer David Dundee calls it “an astronomical non-event.”


“I’m sorry the astronomer’s going to throw a wet blanket on all this,” Dundee says, “because if you walk out, look at the full moon, you're going to say, ‘That's the same old full moon I've always seen.’”

Dry conditions continue to fuel the flames of wildfires throughout the state of Georgia, and the ongoing drought is making it tough for fire crews.

George Wetzel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says the smoke blanketing parts of the state including metro Atlanta isn't going away just yet:

"Unfortunately with the winds coming in from the north, they may be light, but we're still going to start seeing reduced visibility and even this morning all the way down here in Peachtree City we could smell some of the smoke from up north."

In this file photo, firefighters battle a wildfire April 18, 2007, near Waycross, Georgia.
Lewis Levine / Associated Press

It might be a smoky Thanksgiving throughout the metro Atlanta area.

You may have smelled smoke when you left the house today.

That's from wildfires that have been burning for weeks throughout the northern part of the state and in Alabama, North Carolina and Tennessee.

The Georgia Forestry Commission says October saw close to 1,000 wildfires in Georgia – more than 200 percent above the monthly average.