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West Mims Fire

Unit Information

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
Fish and Wildlife Service
Folkston, GA 31537

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West Mims Fire Morning Update May 21, 2017

West Mims Fire Wildfire
News – 5/21/2017

Fire Statistics:

● The fire is currently 152,478 acres and 60 percent contained.

● Firefighting resources include 7 helicopters, 2 air tankers, 135 wildland fire engines, 62 bulldozers, 5 hand crews, and 1,025 personnel.

Fire Situation and Planned Actions:

The fire remained relatively inactive. There were no new starts. Fire personnel will continue to improve firelines, extinguishing all heat sources (“mop up”), in some cases up to 300 feet from the fireline in the southern part of the fire west of St. George. Crews and equipment will also continue to work today along the Swamps Edge Break west of Folkston, south of Waycross, and east of Homerville to protect those communities should the fire progress north. Fire managers are coordinating with private landowners to facilitate access for salvage logging north and south of Highway 94 in the fire’s southeastern tip. A road-maintenance group is grading and stabilizing roads affected by fire-suppression activities wherever needed, but mainly in the southeast area of the fire. Conditions are such that night operations have moved to a swing shift, with operations ceasing by 2am. Day operations will continue to start at 7:30am.

Focusing on initial attack until significant rain occurs is still a priority. Today’s operational priorities remain mop up, initial attack readiness, contingency planning, and line construction. Forecasted rains started in part of the fire area this morning. Firefighters will be active through the day to take advantage of the wetter conditions that will aid mop up.

Weather and Fire Behavior:

Sunday morning temperatures will be in the lower 70s, topping out in the lower to mid-90s during the afternoon. Minimum RH will drop into the 40s. SE winds of 10 mph will pull moisture into the area. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will develop during the afternoon across the area, primarily forming on the sea breeze boundary as it pushes across the incident. This activity will weaken a few hours after sunset tonight. Precipitation chances will increase considerably over the next few days. Continued east winds could push fire activity from reburn and ground fire toward containment lines. If fuel conditions continue to dry, expect swampy areas that did not burn to heat back up. Potential for reburn continues. Unburned pockets of interior fuels could begin to burn as well. Dozer berms, silviculture piles and other heavy accumulations of vegetation will continue to hold heat and be potential spot producers. Lightning may ignite new starts. Initial attack responses could increase. New fires have potential to develop quickly.


Air Quality:

Thewinds will be predominately out of the southeast today. With rain moving over the fire this morning, expect very little smoke production today. Health concerns due to smoke are not anticipated.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge:

● The refuge remains closed.

● Main Entrance (Suwannee Canal Recreation Area, Folkston): closed

● Secondary East Entrance (Kingfisher Landing, between Folkston and Waycross): open - day use only. Note: wilderness canoe overnight stops are closed.

● North Entrance (Okefenokee Swamp Park, Waycross): open

● West Entrance (Stephen C. Foster State Park, Fargo): closed

● Secondary West Entrance (Suwannee River Sill, Fargo): closed

Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR):

A TFR is in place for all aircraft, including unmanned aircraft:

Burn Bans:

● Florida: Baker and Nassau counties

● Georgia: Brantley, Charlton, Clinch, Glynn, Pierce, Columbia and Ware counties

West Mims Fire History:

This lightning-caused fire was reported on April 6, 2017, approximately 2.5 miles northeast of the Eddy Fire Tower in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The Southern Area Red Type 1 Incident Management Team is managing the fire with Georgia Forestry Commission, Greater Okefenokee Association of Landowners (GOAL), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Forest Service, and USDA Forest Service.

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