Fire zone authority bewilders

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SAVANNAH, Ga. - While the fires in southeast Georgia are now being fought under a "unified command" structure, control over assignments and resources has been at times confusing.

Fire trucks from around the state await inspection in the Georgia Mutual Aid Group staging area in Jesup.  Morris News Service
Morris News Service
Fire trucks from around the state await inspection in the Georgia Mutual Aid Group staging area in Jesup.

"We're under unified command. There is no lead agency," said Kris Eriksen, manager of the joint information center in Waycross. "The initial agency was Georgia Forestry (Commission) because it started on their land. But it grew, and Georgia Forestry called in more resources."

The agency put out a call to firefighters from Ware County, neighboring communities and any department willing to assist.

The situation grew more complicated when the fire spread to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which is federal land, Mr. Eriksen said. It falls under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency got involved May 2 when Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency in 21 counties, Mr. Eriksen said. The agency sent out a call for help, which Southside Fire/EMS answered.

While many supplies have been donated, hundreds of meals, hotel rooms and other expenses still must be covered.

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