Behind the fire lines of the West Mims Fire

The fire is 15 percent contained

ST. GEORGE, Ga. -- Forestry agents took members of the media behind the lines of the West Mims Fire, far beyond the sign that says 'road closed' to see some of the damage the flames have caused.

Officials said that the weather has been a major factor in the strange burn patterns of the fire. It is hard to predict the way the fire is going to move because of strong winds. So often when we think of wildfires, we think of a wall of huge and fast-moving fire, and sometimes that is true, but not always.

All it takes to start a fire across a street or in a place that has already been burned is one small dry pine needle falling to the ground silently and coming into contact with a still-warm ember to light a new blaze.

Officials are working tirelessly to fight these small fires as well at the large blaze that has already burned over 140,000 acres.

A look behind the line of the fire required special clothes; a yellow button down long sleeve shirt, green cargo pants, leather boots at least 8 inches in height from sole to ankle, protective eyewear, gloves, and a hard hat. To be frank, the get up was incredibly warm, nearly everyone in the caravan of SUVs complained about the heat and the long sleeves, but the clothes were for protection.

"One size fits all, unless it's too big too small," said an official. 

West Mims fire now over 143,800 acres, half of Charlton County evacuated

Forestry officials wear these clothes every time they go out, and those fighting the fires directly are wearing much heavier clothing, sweating and experiencing temperatures well over 100 degrees. 

It was quiet and eerie with the thick smoke that burned eyes and lungs, but officials said, "You get used to it." A lot of people have evacuated in the area, which contributed to the eerie feel, but officials said that some people are hanging on, coming to them for daily updates, unwilling to leave their property.

The fire is expected to burn into November. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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