Fire at Okefenokee swamp spreading

Fire at Okefenokee swamp spreading

July 10th, 2011 by Associated Press in News

Smoke from South Georgia forest fires is visible on Calhoun Expressway and hiding the downtown skyline in Augusta, Ga., on Friday. AP Photo/The Augusta Chronicle, Rainier Ernhardt)

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

FOLKSTON, Ga. - The Honey Prairie Fire at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge has grown by about 2,500 acres to more than 294,000 acres, fire information officers said Saturday.

The fire information center said winds from thunderstorms made the fire more active south of Okefenokee Swamp Park near U.S. 1 south of Waycross. The center said lightning sparked four new fires and firefighters contained them quickly.

Fire suppression units from the Sweat Farm Again Fire helped the Georgia Forestry Commission suppress a new fire, the Deere Fire, five miles east of the Cogdell Community on Georgia 122.

Information officers said light rain fell Friday morning on the southern portion of the fire. The Sweat Farm Again and Racepond fires were mostly quiet by Friday evening.

The National Weather Service issued an advisory that smoke from the Honey Prairie Fire would reduce visibility along U.S. 1 between Waycross and Baxley and U.S. 84 between Waycross and Jesup.

Visibility could be a mile or less at times, the advisory said.

During the early morning hours when fire activity is low, firefighters are rehabbing trails at Suwannee Canal Recreation Area. On Thursday, they felled eight burned trees that were in danger of falling on the Longleaf Pine Trail. They were to clear fallen and standing trees on Friday that are hazardous along the Deer Stand and Ridley's Island trails.

All four public entrances to the refuge remain closed.