Explosion of wildfires, shortage of manpower a sobering reality in N. Ga.

Explosion of wildfires, shortage of manpower a sobering reality in N. Ga.

15 November 2016

published by http://www.11alive.com

USA — RABUN COUNTY, GA. – As an unprecedented fire season rages on in north Georgia, fire officials aimed to give a room full of worried people a realistic expectation.

This year alone there have been 500 fires in Georgia. That number is usually around 30. Fire crews in Rabun County battled more than 170 in one day alone. Now, officials indicate the fires will likely be here until at least December.

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On Tuesday, residents near a wildfire burning near Rabun County met at the courthouse to get a status on the fire and what firefighters are doing to keep their home safe from the flames.

Bob Faire was one of those residents. Fire is creeping closer to his home in Towns County.

“There’s nothing stopping it,” he told 11Alive’s Chris Hopper. He said he’s prepared to evacuate. Officials are telling him he might have to.

“You just pack up what you want to take with you and get ready to go in case they give you the call to get out,” Faire said.

The Rock Mountain Fire in Rabun is the biggest threat for folks in the room. It’s 7,000 acres, and moving fast – a quarter to a half mile a day, with Tate City facing the most serious consequences right now. About 160 people from Georgia and across the U.S. are fighting it now, but it’s not nearly enough. Usually 700 crew members fight a fire this size.

Officials have put in the order for more crews to help, but residents can only wait and hope.

With a serious drought dragging on and very little rain in the forecast, it means this fire – and the thick smoke that goes with it – isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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“The smoke is really bad for me because I have asthma and I have not been able to go outside,” Carolyn Rafter, a resident of Rabun County told 11Alive.

Officials expect the Rock Mountain Fire, only 10 to 20 percent contained at this point, will only grow from here and keep heading north across the state line.

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