The West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, U.S. April 25, 2017. Fish and Wildlife Service/Michael Lusk/Handout via REUTERS


A massive wildfire in Georgia’s Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has forced thousands of nearby residents to evacuate their homes, authorities said on Sunday, adding the blaze might not be fully contained for months.

About 2,000 people in Georgia’s southernmost county were evacuated Saturday after the massive wildfire in the Okefenokee Swamp began to burn just a few miles from the St. George community, News 4 reports.


A mandatory evacuation is in place for St. George residents, the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge said.

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The fire was only 12 percent contained as of Sunday afternoon and more than 500 people were fighting the blaze, according to fire information website InciWeb.


Shifting winds have helped spread the fire, Melanie Banton, a spokeswoman for firefighters and park officials battling the West Mims Fire said, adding it could take until November before the blaze is fully contained.


The fire was within 3 miles of the community, West Mims public information officer Michael Davis said.
“It looks like everyone over there is getting out the best way they can get out,” said Dave Sova, who helped his daughter pack up and evacuate from St. George. “It’s very hectic over there right now.”


Charlton County emergency management officials issued the following statement Saturday:

This is an evacuation order. A wildfire is approaching the area. Residents of Saint George should evacuate now. Please take your medications, hard to replace valuables and important papers with you. Please evacuate your pets with you. Again, this is an evacuation order for Charlton County residents of Saint George.

Nassau County emergency management officials said that residents who live along County Road 121 and the St. Marys River need to make preparations now in case an emergency evacuation order is issued.

Nassau County emergency management issued the following statement:

Emergency Management has issued a precautionary notice to Nassau County citizens on the west side of the county. 

The West Mims fire in the Okefenokee is moving east toward the St. Mary’s River. Firefighters are working to keep the fire from the city of St. George, which is under a mandatory evacuation order.

Although an evacuation order has not been issued for Nassau County residents, those living near CR-121 and the St. Mary’s river, from Deep Creek and Old Quail Pkwy, north to Roy Sikes Rd, have been asked to prepare their families and property now, in case an evacuation becomes necessary.

Nassau County Emergency Operations Center is open. If you have questions, please call 904-548-0900, option 1.

Reuters reported the fire may not be contained until November.

From the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page:

NEW EVACUATION UPDATE as of 5/7/2017 at 11:54pm. Attention St. George, Canaday Lp, & Moniac residents: MANDATORY EVACUATION for all residents in these areas.

1st Responders are NOT coming door to door because they are fighting this approaching fire to try to save your homes. The fire has jumped HWY 94 and is now headed towards the communities in Canaday Lp and Moniac.

The shelter for all evacuees in these areas has been moved to the Camden County Recreation Center at 1050 Wildcat Drive in Kingsland, GA.

The evacuation order is for all of St. George, Canaday Loop, & Moniac. We advise all residents in these areas to follow this evacuation order for your safety. Hwy 121 & Hwy 94 are closed.

The public information line on this fire is 904-452-4627. Charlton County Schools have been closed for Monday, May 8, 2017.

A firefighter watches a helicopter above Georgia Highway 177 as the West Mims fire burns in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, U.S. April 25, 2017. Fish and Wildlife Service/Mark Davis/Handout via REUTERS

Evening Summary of Fire Activity for #WestMimsFire for #Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. It’s been a long day, and it’s not over yet.

Please stay safe and follow directions of law enforcement and county officials. Like the firefighters, they are working hard to keep you safe. If you are still in St. George, PLEASE evacuate immediately

The fire, sparked by lightning April 6, has mainly burned within the Okefenokee refuge boundaries and some public forest land in north Florida for the past month.

The fire burned into Florida last month and may advance into that state again, officials said on Sunday.

Six years ago, a wildfire burned more than 300,000 acres (121,400 hectares) of the 407,000-acre (164,700-hectare) refuge, said Mark Davis, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which runs the refuge.

We pray for the safety of the residents and all of the courageous emergency personnel battling this wildfire.

Source- AFF

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