West Mims Fire remains mostly uncontained, increases to 46,000 acres
24 April 2017
published by http://www.firstcoastnews.com
USA - The wildfire that is believed to have been started by lightning
activity in Baker County, Fla. continues to burn, increasing to 46,413 acres in
total size and only 4 percent contained, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife
The West Mims Fire, which began on April 6, approximately two miles northeast of the Eddy Fire Tower in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, grew to approximately 36,000 acres Sunday afternoon. High winds, according to FWS, are believed to have contributed to significant fire growth late in the day Sunday, bringing the total acreage to 46,413. Infrared imagery used by FWS confirmed this figure Monday morning.
A total of 435 personnel are assigned to the incident as it moves northeast, further into Ware County. Equipment resources currently being used include 6 helicopters, 39 wildland fire engines, 9 bulldozers and 31 tractor plows. The Georgia Forestry Commission Type 2 Incident Management Team is reportedly managing the fire alongside the Florida Forest Service.
Westerly wind gusts between 8 to 10 miles per hour are predicted for Monday, helping the fire to continue to burn on Fiddlers Island. Fire growth, however, is expected to slow as it reaches wet areas north of the island. The fire is currently well established on Mitchell Island, according to FWS. It's predicted to continue moving east of the island today and stall two miles west of containment lines.
Current growth projections, according to FWS, estimate that the wildfire will burn an additional 32,785 acres by the end of the day Monday and extend north into Charlton County by Friday.
Water levels in the surrounding swamp are reportedly lower now than they were in 2011 during the Honey Prairie wildfire. According to information gathered by the U.S. Geological Survey, reduced water levels are directly correlated to the severity of wildfires in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
According to FWS, smoke could reach Jacksonville, Fla. on Monday due to westerly winds. The National Weather Service and the West Mims Incident Meteorologist will be monitoring air quality conditions throughout the day. No advisories have been issued for Northeast Florida as of Monday morning.
Nightly lane closures are in effect on Georgia State Road 94 between the agriculture check station at the Florida/Georgia state line to U.S. 441 in Fargo. Other temporary lane closures will occur as necessary, per Fish and Wildlife Service.
The Wilderness Canoe Trail overnight stops, Swamp Island Drive, Chesser Island Boardwalk, Chesser Island Homestead, Stephen C. Foster State Park, Suwannee River Sill, the Pocket and all water trails inside the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge have been closed indefinitely.
Burn bans remain in effect for the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and all of Baker County, Fla.