Evacuations expand as S. Georgia wildfire torches more than 130,000 acres

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Tornado warning in South Fulton County has expired 

Evacuations expand as S. Georgia wildfire torches more than 130,000 acres

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Smoke from the West Mims Fire was visible above this road in Charlton County. (Credit: Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge)
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  • The West Mims Fire covered about 133,744 acres Sunday night in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

A mandatory evacuation has broadened to include multiple South Georgia areas as a wildfire approaches communities on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp.

Rita Baysinger, who came from Colorado to help the U.S. Forest Service as a spokeswoman, said Monday that Moniac and Canaday Loop were ordered to evacuate. 

She said she doesn't know how many have evacuated the area, but that it is the second round of evacuations.

The West Mims Fire covered about 133,744 acres late Sunday in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

That’s up from more than 118,000 acres torched when the initial mandatory evacuation was issued Saturday for the unincorporated community of Saint George in Charlton County, Georgia Fish and Wildlife Service reported.

About 74 people left in that first evacuation, which sent white ash as far as downtown Jacksonville, the Florida Times-Union reported.

As of Monday afternoon, 624 firefighters and other crew members were working the fire, Baysinger said.

They used 59 wildfire engines, 10 helicopters, five bulldozers and 37 tractor piles. 

“The tractor piles are very important,” Baysinger said.

Crews used the machinery to create safe spaces within the area of the wildfire so they can work to extinguish it.

A temporary shelter was opened in the gymnasium of an elementary school in Folkston on Saturday. Evacuees have since been moved to the Camden County Recreation Center in Kingsland.

No injuries have been reported.

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