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Honey Prairie Fire Rekindles

Date: 8/22/2011
Origin: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Georgia Forestry Commission

Four months into fighting the Honey Prairie Fire, it came back to haunt firefighters again. A short radio transmission heard on Saturday evening, 8/20/11 about 5:00 PM indicated that firefighters in the northwest portion of the Refuge, just northeast of Fargo, Ga. reported a fire had been located on the Refuge. They indicated that it was a re-burn fire. That is, the fire had already burned through this area weeks ago. The fuels that were left behind by this initial burn (dead leaves, pine straw, twigs and limbs) had re-ignited in an area close to a fireline that narrowly separated a stand of commercial pine trees from the boundary line of the Refuge. Fortunately, a fire crew, responsible for initial attack, was staged close by and immediately began to move into position to fight the fire back into the swamp. In addition to the initial attack fire crew, the radio call also requested the aid of a medium helicopter capable of dropping numerous buckets of water in an attempt to halt the fires escalating heat and size. The pilot of the helicopter successfully dropped 40+ buckets of water before running low on fuel. A second medium 40+ helicopter replaced the first ship and continued with another 40+ buckets of water. With daylight subsiding rapidly about 8:00 PM the helicopters ceased their operations and returned to their base of operations in Waycross. The initial attack ground crew them monitored the area for any signs of continued life before returning to their base camp for the night.

A reconnaissance flight the next morning, (8/21/11) observed that many burned and unburned areas in the northwestern corner of the refuge were showing renewed signs of life. Numerous plumes of smoke and open flames dotted the area. Fire fighting resources have been pre-positioned along the northwestern edge of the refuge to battle the fire back into the refuge wherever and whenever it tries to escape. Southwest winds on 8/21/11 will push smoke into the Waycross/Hoboken area and beyond on Sunday. A predicted wind shift to the West on Monday 8/22/11 will move smoke toward Kingfisher Landing and Folkston with predicted secondary smoke impacts to Camden County and Coastal Georgia.

The Honey Prairie Fire is definitely not out yet!