Georgia wildfires burn up tourism dollars

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Georgia wildfires burn up tourism dollars

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James and Mary Beck of Fayetteville share a kiss on Amelia Island. The couple smells some of the smoke from the Okefenokee wildfire but it isn’t enough to spoil their vacation.

ST. GEORGE — The wildfire raging in Southeast Georgia are not only burning up large swaths of woodlands. It is also consuming tourism dollars.

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, where the fire started April 6, is taking the hardest hit.

The smell from the fire, though, has stretched tens of miles away to such popular vacation spots as St. Simons and Amelia islands.

“It smells like someone is burning garbage nearby,” Beck, 55, said of the plumes of smoke from the fire. “But it does make for beautiful sun and moon rises.”

The smell isn’t overwhelming, he said, and it comes and goes with the wind. Concern is rising that the wildfire, expected to burn at least through the summer, will cost even more as the region heads into the busy Memorial Day weekend that marks the launch of summer.

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