Hazy conditions from fires reported on I-85, I-20

Arson is suspected in fires burning in Rabun County. (Credit: Clayton Tribune)

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Arson is suspected in fires burning in Rabun County. (Credit: Clayton Tribune)

Hazy conditions from Georgia wildfires were reported Thursday on I-85 southbound in Gwinnett County and I-20 westbound in DeKalb County, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center.

With the reduced visibility, officials urged caution.

Elsewhere, arson is suspected in several fires in Rabun County and authorities are seeking a man in connection with the incidents, according to the Clayton Tribune.

Rabun County sheriff’s deputies say a man driving a dark blue SUV was seen in the area of the fires, according to the report. Fire Chief James Reed said there was no lightning or leaf-burning activity when the fires began Wednesday, the report said.

Reed said fires along Highway 28 burned about 38 acres, according to the report. No homes or buildings were in danger as of Wednesday. Rabun County is about 110 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta.

Heavy smoke was also reported in the Athens area from fires in North Georgia and North Carolina, police said. The smoke is drifting south and will affect the area throughout the day.

Since Wednesday, 56 fires have been reported statewide, Wendy Burnett of the Georgia Forestry Commission said.

The state’s largest ongoing fire is in the Cohutta Wilderness area of Fannin County, covering 10,000 acres, Burnett said. It is 13 percent contained.

Just north of the state line, deputies in Hamilton County, Tenn., are going door-to-door to ask residents to evacuate from a fire in the Lookout Mountain area, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized aid to cover costs of fighting the fire, according to the report.

In metro Atlanta, there are burn bans, self-imposed or otherwise, in Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Paulding, Cobb and Douglas counties, as well as the city of Johns Creek.

Also, Henry fire officials said they will only respond to complaints of smoke if fire is visible. DeKalb officials asked residents to use “reasonable discretion” before calling 911 to report a fire.

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