Officials drop fire devices on blaze in North Georgia

Officials are using fire-inducing spheres dropped from helicopters as their latest tool to try to control a massive wildfire in North Georgia, Channel 2 Action News reported.

U.S. Forest Service officials began their airborne assault Friday against the fire in Fannin County from the Dalton airport. The fire in the Cohutta Wilderness area has grown to encompass 13,000 acres, Channel 2 reported.

The spheres, about the size of a golf ball, contain liquid and powder that is designed to start a fire on impact, the station reported.

Officials hope intentionally burning more ground will contain the fire before it can threaten homes.

“Creating fire on the ground is just one of the tools that operations use to help control the fire,” Clay Van Horn of the USFS said.

The fire, which has contributed to the smoky haze covering metro Atlanta, “continues to grow in size and complexity,” said spokesman Seth Hawkins of the Georgia Forestry Commission. Battling this and other blazes in Georgia is not expected to get easier.

“It is going to be another busy day, with humidity expected to continue to be low, and drop below 20 percent,” Hawkins said. “We are also expecting variable and gusting winds, especially starting tonight when the wind-prevailing direction will most likely change to an east wind. These weather factors increase the probability of extreme fire behavior and increased fire control difficulty.”

Statewide, there were 84 wildfire calls Thursday through noon Friday, including 29 in North Georgia, GFC spokeswoman Wendy Burnett said.

Also, a Paulding County official said four youths ages 7 to 13 started the 120-acre wildfire Tuesday near that county’s airport. They were playing with a lighter in a wooded area and lit dried leaves, fire spokesman Steve Mapes said. The fire quickly spread because of the extremely dry conditions.

Schools were closed that day due to the election.

Fire officials said the youths and their families will be enrolled in a fire intervention program.

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