published Monday, January 27th, 2014

Chattooga wildfire blocks part of U.S. Highway 27

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A wildfire that closed U.S. Highway 27 in Chattooga County, Ga., on Sunday night wasn't related to a controlled burn the U.S. Forest Service conducted Sunday in Walker County, sources said.

As of 9 p.m., Chattooga County and U.S. Forest Service personnel were at the wildfire on Taylor's Ridge and still trying to assess the size and shape of the blaze, county and federal dispatchers said.

A county dispatcher said the north- and southbound lanes of U.S. 27 were closed.

Meanwhile, a 1,250-acre controlled burn at Keown Falls in Walker County, Ga., sent heavy smoke into Whitfield and Gordon counties Sunday afternoon.

An employee at the U.S. Forest Service's Conasauga Ranger District said the burn area is near the Pocket Recreation Center off state Highway 136. The Forest Service map showed the area was west of Interstate 75, about midway between Dalton and Calhoun, Ga.

For safety reasons, the Keown Falls picnic area, Keown Falls trails, and the Pinhoti Trail on the east side of John's Mountain are closed while the burn is underway.

The burn is being conducted to reduce natural fuels that could lead to devastating wildfires and to improve wildlife habitat, according to the Forest Service's website.

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