Arson blamed in large wildfire

  • Follow Metro

SAVANNAH, Ga. --- Authorities believe arson caused a large wildfire that has engulfed more than 2,700 acres of swamp and forest in rural south Georgia, the head of the Georgia Forestry Commission said Wednesday.

Robert Farris said the state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the blaze that's burned for more than two weeks in Clinch County.

No homes have been damaged or destroyed, but the wildfire has smothered nearby communities and highways, including portions of Interstate 75, with thick smoke. Authorities say the smoky conditions have caused several traffic accidents.

"There are large costs involved in the actions resulting from this arsonist," Farris said. "Think about closing schools and highways down, the impacts on the residents and health concerns with being inundated with smoke for weeks on end."

Billy Leitch, the Forestry Commission's lead investigator in the wildfire case, said authorities found physical evidence the fire was started intentionally after tracing the blaze back to its point of origin. He declined to specify what evidence was found, citing the ongoing investigation.

Investigators were also able to rule out other possible causes such as a lightning strike, Leitch said, and the reward offer has already started generating leads.


Top headlines

Former commissioner's case remains under review

While former Augusta commissioner Donnie Smith's statements to Georgia State Patrol investigators likely can't be used against him, the state Office of the Inspector General continues to conduct ...
Search Augusta jobs