Okefenokee fire brings smoke to Butler Co.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 8, 2002

Monday morning, many residents of Greenville woke up to the sight and smell of smoke. It seemed that no matter where one went in the city, the smoke was still there.

The question of the day, "Where is it coming from?"

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, located in Waycross, Ga., has been the victim of a wildfire this past week, and on Sunday the fire grew to nearly 1,000 acres.

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Almost 96,000 gallons of water were dumped on the flames to help get the fire under control.

Maggie O'Connell, a refuge ranger, reported to The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, Fla., that another fire in the southcentral region of the swamp has burned about 11,000 acres.

The larger of the wildfires is located near Blackjack Island, and forestry officials said Friday that 5,400 acres were on fire.

The fire is believed to have started from a lightning strike last Tuesday, and since then, two towns have issued a burn ban.

Westerly winds caused the smoke to travel to Alabama and as far south in Florida as Gainesville.

Steve Perdue of the Alabama Forestry Commission in Chapman said, "If residents are burning over a quarter-acre of land they are required to obtain a burn permit. Right now with the drought the way it is, residents need to be careful about burning. We haven't gone under a fire alert yet, but residents must be cautious during the summer months."