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Ellabell fires under investigation
A Bryan County Sheriff's deputy stands by his patrol car Thursday to avert traffic from a smoke wall in the Magnolia Creek subdivision in Ellabell. The smoke was from a fire in an open field that spread through areas of the neighborhood. - photo by Teresa Chaney

The Georgia Forestry Commission is investigating two suspicious fires that started in open fields this week in Magnolia Creek subdivision in Ellabell.
The most recent fire was around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Bryan County Assistant Fire Chief Otis Willis. While there were no injuries, he said the blaze did manage to damage the siding on a vacant home as it spread through the subdivision.
“We’re very lucky crews were able to get in there ... and were able to contain the fire,” Willis said. “It looks like it was heat coming off the burning grass that melted the siding.”
He did not know how much area burned Thursday but said about an acre burned Sunday in another fire in the same neighborhood. That blaze caused no damage or injuries, he said.
Because both fires started in open fields, the Georgia Forestry Commission is investigating the incidents. Because there was no nearby outdoor burning, no lightning events, no downed powerlines or other hazards that could have accidentally caused flames to flare up, Georgia Forestry Commission Chief Ranger Ty Hayman said the fires are being treated as suspicious.
“We have investigators on the scene,” he said. “Local residents have been cooperating well, and we’ve contacted the sheriff’s department and are working on some leads from there.”
Willis noted there had been reports of children in the area before the fires broke out.
“There have been some comments from neighbors about kids in the area, and that is being taken into consideration,” he said. “But it’s in the hands of the investigators.”
Hayman said the investigation could take as long as several weeks to complete.
Willis said four crews from Bryan County and one from Pembroke responded to the call Thursday. He offered a reminder to residents that all outside burning requires a permit from the local Georgia Forestry Commission office.
“Contact the local office ... they will let you know if conditions are OK for burning,” in addition to letting local officials know there is someone in the area conducting an outside burn, Willis said.
For more information about outdoor burning or to obtain a permit online, visit The commission office from Bryan County can be reached at 653-4411.

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