Smoke from wildfires is seen in area

Corey Perrine/Staff
Augusta's skyline appeared hazy from Interstate 520 on Thursday morning because of smoke that traveled from wildfires burning in south Georgia.

Smoke from large wildfires in and near the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia blanketed the Augusta area Thursday morning.

 

Steve Abbott, the chief ranger senior with the Georgia Forestry Commission, fielded nearly a dozen calls about the smoke in little more than an hour Thursday morning.

He attributed it to the Honey Prairie and Racepond fires, which are still producing smoke in southern Georgia and northern Florida.

"We've had poor overnight smoke dispersion," Abbott said. "We are in perfect alignment with the south wind to push the smoke north and impact this area.

"Unless anybody sees a direct plume of smoke or flames, the smoke is coming from the south Georgia fires," Abbott said.

The Richmond County Fire Department also received several calls concerning heavy smoke.

The Associated Press reported Monday that heavy smoke had drifted into Savannah, nearly 130 miles away from its source near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, where more than 160,000 acres have burned.

Since Monday, nearly 50 new wildfires have broken out in southeast Georgia.

About 500 firefighters near the Georgia-Florida line continued to make progress Thursday in keeping the Honey Prairie fire confined to the interior of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

That fire, which has burned more than 250 square miles inside the swamp, was started by a lightning strike April 30. Fire officials say it's now 80 percent contained.

The Racepond fire, which started near the Okefenokee's northern edge was 70 percent contained Thursday after burning 7,883 acres, or 12 square miles.

Drought conditions are largely to blame for one of Georgia's most active wildfire seasons in years. Fire officials say the swamp fires need several days of soaking rains before they can be extinguished.

Updates on swamp fire