Georgia, Florida beachgoers beware: Massive wildfire could send smoke your way

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Georgia, Florida beachgoers beware: Massive wildfire could send smoke your way

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Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
A massive wildfire in Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge may not be fully contained until Nov. 1, meaning smoke from the blaze could hit Georgia and Florida’s beaches this summer. Credit: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge

Add this to the list responsibilities for your summer beach getaway in Georgia or Florida: Keeping tabs on the massive wildfire now raging across 72 square miles in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. 

Smoke was reported on St. Simons Island Sunday. It was in Jacksonville Monday morning. And more could come to Coastal Georgia and Florida in the months ahead. On Monday, firefighters predicted the blaze —set by lightning — won’t be fully contained until Nov. 1. 

Channel 2's Berndt Petersen reports.

Breathing smoke from the blaze could be unhealthy, particularly for sick or elderly people and children. Updates about the “West Mims Fire” and air quality advisories will be posted at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5153/ and www.weather.gov/jax. 

Of course, a lot of factors will play into whether smoke will drift as far as Amelia or Sea islands. Among those factors: the direction and strength of the wind, the time of day and the materials that are burning. 

“It’s far too early to say what the impacts will be over Memorial Day,” said Rick Davis, a National Weather Service meteorologist who is monitoring the wildfire. “Keep your plans, obviously. But keep an eye on the weather. Keep an eye on what the fire is doing. And plan accordingly.” 

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