Some St. George residents refuse to leave as West Mims Fire spreads

First responders are NOT coming door to door, because they are fighting this approaching fire to try to save as many homes as possible!

The evacuation zone was expanded by three miles, in all directions, from State Road 121 and State Road 94 Sunday night.

Over the weekend, county officials ordered dozens of families to leave their homes but several families decided to stay behind.

"It's my home. I don't want to lose it. It's the only thing we have," Charles McCoy of Wheeler Rd said.

McCoy has lived in St. George for more than 50 years. The smoke from the West Mims Fire in the Okefenokee Swamp filled the air near his home, casting a dark haze over the sun. 

McCoy says he and several of his neighbors were finding it hard to leave it all behind.

"I got water hoses everywhere. I've been spraying around everything. Ashes are falling-- spraying constantly," McCoy said.

McCoy sent his wife and grandchildren to Macclenny, Florida. His son, cousin, and others chose to stay behind with him.

"We been here since 1964. I ain't going nowhere," McCoy declared.

This as forestry officials urged all of Charlton County to heed their warning.

"People need to take this seriously it could be a potential life or death situation," Forestry official Joe Z said.

Sparked by a lightning strike, The Wildfire has been burning for more than a month, growing to more than 130,000 acres.

"There's not enough water to put this thing out," official Susie Hisey said

"It's moving. It's jumped some of our containment lines," Joe Zweirzchowski added.

More than 500 first responders from all over the U.S. are on the ground and in the air fighting the fire.

It was a close call Sunday evening, a tractor plow caught fire, but the firefighter escaped uninjured.

Forestry officials say the wildfire is dangerous, even for them, that's why they are asking residents to evacuate.

"The more people that are in there, the more people we have to protect, the harder it is for our guys to deal with the fire itself," Joe Zweirzchowski explained.

McCoy says he will leave, when the time is right, "We're going to protect it up until we have to leave. I mean when it comes down to when we have to leave. Then I'll go."

No word on when the evacuation order will be lifted... officials told First Coast News that crews plan to work through the night. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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