Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Fish and Wildlife Service
Folkston, GA 31537
West Mims Fire Evening Summary
Saturday May 6, 2017
Current Fire Situation: At 4:30 pm today the West Mims Fire was 135,391 acres and 12% contained. The fire moved aggressively to the east and southeast against an enhanced air and ground attack today. Crews held lines overnight, and an augmented force including 10 helicopters, 3 heavy air tankers and dozens of industrial tractors took over the fight in the morning. These resources continued to hold their ground until about 10:30 am when heat and fuels combined to send up dark columns of smoke. Numerous individual spot fires combined and forced firefighters away from their direct attack strategy. Charlton County issued an evacuation order for the town of St. George. The order affected an estimated 79 residents in 75 homes. There was a second push around 11:30 which sent the fire east of Trail Ridge Road and toward the intersection of Hwy 94 and 121. Several property owners to the southeast joined fire crews in fighting the advance. There was also increased activity on the west side of the fire, though it was not nearly as intense. There was a 4.2-acre breach on the northwest line and a two acre re-burn west of Hwy 94. Numerous new smokes were observed on the fire’s southwest edge. The fire continued backing on Billys Island. Where conditions allowed, crews on the west side continued to mop-up and secure existing lines.
Weather & Expected Fire Behavior: Tomorrow promises to be a repeat of today as relative humidity, which bottomed out at 18% today, will remain very low in advance of a dry cold front from the north. Moisture recovery will be very slow tonight, and the fire is expected to remain active until late and start moving again early in the day tomorrow. Winds will persist tonight and tomorrow in the 20 to 25 mph range switching from the north overnight to the west-southwest tomorrow. Because of the expectation of an early start, the fire could be even more active tomorrow than it was today. Though there will be no actual Red Flag Warning for the area tomorrow, all fire prediction criteria, from fuel conditions to temperatures in the 80s, dispersion indices, and low humidity, point to another dangerous day on the West Mims Fire.
Planned Actions: Firefighters will continue to mop-up and patrol in areas on the west side of the fire. A new structure protection group will be active overnight and tomorrow in the St. George area. The group will be tasked with protecting private and public property, infrastructure and access routes in the threatened areas. Eight Type 1 helicopters and three heavy air tankers will be assigned to the southeast part of the fire threatening St. George. Crews will continue to work closely with active logging operations outside the refuge boundary near the southwestern edge of the fire. Tomorrow, two additional heavy air tankers will be arriving, from Montana and California, to assist on the West Mims Fire.
A burn ban has been imposed for all of Charlton County.