Crews in Hall County battle flames near a mobile park home. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

New North Georgia fires flare

New wildfires across North Georgia are adding to the more than 40,000 acres torched in the region. 

Hot spots remained after a hay bale caught fire in Spalding County just south of Griffin and spread over 50 acres Monday, according to Channel 2 Action News. Fire officials attributed to the growing flames to dry conditions and wind gusts. 

It also hasn't helped that it hasn't rained in nearly two months in the county.  

Earlier, a brush fire at the Baker and Glover Mobile Home Park along Casper Drive in Hall County. Bustles of smoke hovered over trees in the trailer park as crews worked to fight the flames. 

No injuries have been reported in the fires, which span about five acres, Hall County Fire Services spokesman Capt. Zachary Brackett said Monday. Officials were working with the Georgia Forestry Commission to determine the cause. 

Wind and dry conditions have fueled flames from metro Atlanta to the North Georgia mountains over the past few weeks. 

Over the weekend, 46 homes were evacuated as two fires flared in Polk County, Forestry Commission spokeswoman Wendy Burnett said Monday. That fire, which is 30 percent contained, burned more than 1,800 acres in Polk and Haralson counties, she said. 

One fire early Monday crept close to homes near Villa Rica. Firefighters capped the flames before they reached homes, and there were no injuries reported. But it torched just more than an acre and burned for more than three hours before firefighters were able to get it under control on Connors Road, Douglas County fire spokesman Wes Tallon said.

Douglas County reported 27 calls about grass, wood and illegal burning fires from Friday to Sunday, Tallon said. The county is in an “exceptional” drought, the worst category of dryness according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

“There is absolutely no moisture in the soil,” Tallon said. “There’s no moisture in the vegetation.”

It is so dry that tossing a cigarette bud out of a car window while driving can spark flames that stretch across acres, Tallon said.

The county stopped granting permits that allow people to burn outdoors Friday.

“People just need to be extremely careful,” he said.

Mark Tabarez takes a water break from fighting the Rock Mountain fire in Rabun County. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

After weeks of battling the blazes, firefighting crews in North Georgia added hundreds of people from across the country and prepared for the long haul last week.

RELATED: Where are the active fires?

Authorities took about 196 calls about wildfires Friday and over the weekend, Burnett said. Sixteen of them were still active Monday.

The largest active fire, in Rough Ridge, is 55 percent contained, and it probably won’t be completely contained until Nov. 30, according to a report from the National Interagency Coordination Center, which helps coordinate efforts between multiple agencies.

The Rough Ridge fire has burned more than 27,800 acres in the Cohutta Wilderness area of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Fannin County, said Mary Stuever, a New Mexico fire official serving as a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.

She joined a team of about 258 people from several agencies who are helping fight the Rough Ridge fire.

“We have many, many people working from many, many agencies,” she said.

RELATED: More photos from North Georgia

The smaller Rock Mountain blaze, spanning more than 12,700 acres about 10 miles north of Clayton in northeast Georgia, is 30 percent contained and isn’t expected to be contained fully until Dec. 15, the NICC reported.

Firefighting crews included about 434 people Monday, down from about 559 people staffing the blaze Friday, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

Firefighters from Montana work to clear weakened trees and debris in the Rock Mountain Fire near Clayton. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Rita Baysinger, who came from Colorado to help the U.S. Forest Service as a spokeswoman, said finding crews to help fight fires has taken time because the fire season doesn’t end until October for western states. She also said firefighting efforts won’t diminish for the holidays, instead continuing a rotation that cycles firefighters in and out to avoid exhaustion.

The Rough Ridge and Rock Mountain fires are smaller than the largest the state has seen. That designation belongs to a fire that burned more than 115,300 acres in Ware County in 2007.

RELATED: What’s been happening since it last rained in metro Atlanta?

The fires have exhausted resources and required assistance from other agencies. The DNR, Department of Corrections, Georgia State Patrol and local fire and law enforcement departments have assisted with the fires.

For the first time in more than 50 years, metro Atlanta went more than 30 consecutive days without rain. That has happened only three other times: 1904, 1952 and 1961, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Karen Minton said. Monday could be the 36th day without measurable rainfall, the National Weather Service reported.

WEATHER: Next chance of rain is Wednesday

Metro Atlanta has avoided the worst of the wildfires, but the most frequent impact has been smoke in the air and poor air quality.


Restrictions banning open air fires, smoking, fire pits, grills and rings kicked in last week along the Appalachian National Scene Trail. The trail begins in Springer Mountain in Fannin County and stretches 78.6 miles through North Georgia.

RELATED: Map: Georgia’s drought and where water restrictions apply

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.