For a while, Bryan County was pretty fortunate in terms of wildfires. Especially when you consider the massive fires which have burned more than half a million acres down near Waycross.
But it looks like Bryan County's luck is changing and not for the better. Wildfires scorched more than 1,000 acres in Bryan and Bulloch counties over the Memorial Day holiday, and that was just the beginning.
Thursday, the same wildfire firefighters had contained a few days earlier kicked back up, blanketing Hwys. 119 and 280 with so much smoke both roads were closed while firefighters and Georgia Forestry Commission rangers from Bryan and surrounding counties battled the blaze. And it got worse. Seventy-one homes near Pembroke had to be evacuated late Thursday as the flames jumped a firebreak. Thanks to the work of firefighters, the fire is again mostly contained and residents were allowed to return to their homes Friday morning.
Which reminds us, again, how fortunate we are to have dedicated men and women, many of them volunteers, who are willing to risk their lives to battle these fires. Unfortunately, it looks like this could be just the beginning of a long spell of troublesome fires.
Otis Willis, Bryan County's assistant fire chief, said this time of year is usually quiet for firefighters and it isn't until the fall that wildfires usually become a problem.
But, Willis noted, "things just have not slowed down at all."
The one cure for all this would be rain. And lot's of it.
Georgia is in the grips of a pretty severe drought, which has piled on the backs of previous drought years, though this one is bad enough with some areas of the state running a rainfall deficit of as much as 17 inches since January.
We're a little better off, with an estimated rainfall deficit of approximately nine inches, but it's still so dry it will take a tropical storm just to get things back on the right track. There is a chance Bryan County and the rest of the Coastal Empire could get some relief this weekend, with some forecasts calling for as much as in inch or two of rain. That's great news. But in the meantime, there are some things the general public can do to help lessen the risk of fire. For example, don't burn anything. That should be a no-brainer with the dry conditions and seemingly half of Georgia on fire, but some apparently still haven't been getting the message. In addition, throwing a lit cigarette out the window or setting off fireworks in these dry conditions is just like setting a match to a powder keg.
Bryan County News
June 2, 2007