Local firefighters helping to fight nearly 150,000-acre blaze

Visuals and facts of the wildfire across south Georgia

The West Mims wildfire was ignited April 6 by lightning. The blaze has continued to spread across South Georgia and over state lines into Florida.
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The West Mims wildfire was ignited April 6 by lightning. The blaze has continued to spread across South Georgia and over state lines into Florida.

Firefighters from Middle Georgia are helping to fight the wildfire in south Georgia that’s scorched nearly 150,000 acres since it started last month.

Crews from the Perry Fire Department, Peach County Fire Department and Baldwin County Fire Rescue joined the West Mims firefighting effort this week. Two Houston County firefighters helped fight the blaze April 7 through Tuesday.

Macon-Bibb County firefighters are on standby to participate in the next wave of crews, according to the fire department.

The blaze was sparked by a lightning strike April 6 about two and a half miles northeast of the Eddy Fire Tower in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Since then, the fire has spread across the Okefenokee and south across the Florida state line, scorching neighboring state and national forests and threatening homes in nearby towns.

Four firefighters from Peach County left Wednesday and are due to return Monday from working in St. George, a town in Charlton County where residents have been evacuated from their homes. The firefighters are tasked with protecting homes and other buildings, said Chief Thomas Doles.

A second crew of four is set to leave Monday and work until Friday, he said.

“If we get the request, we’ll do a third,” the chief said.

Each of the firefighters on the crews has volunteered for the duty, he said.

“They’re wanting to go and help out our neighbors in Charlton and Ware counties,” Doles said.

Five Baldwin County Fire Rescue firefighters left Wednesday and were scheduled to return Saturday, said Chief Troy Reynolds.

Perry Fire Chief Lee Parker said 18 people at his department have volunteered to help.

They’re working in pairs on 48-hour shifts, likely through the end of the month. The first pair left Wednesday and a second shift was set to leave Friday night, he said.

“They want to help people and get some experience doing something different,” Parker said of his volunteers. “We don’t get to fight a wildland fire every day.”

More than 700 people are helping fight the blaze that fire officials estimated was 15 percent contained Friday afternoon, according to a news release.

Saturday’s weather forecast included a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, but fire officials say the rainfall would be too light to have much impact. Winds may spread the fire further and wind shift forecast on Sunday could push the blaze west toward Fargo in Clinch County, according to the release.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon