West Mims Fire grows by 19,000 acres in 1 day

As of Saturday night the West Mims Fire burning in the Okeefeenokee Swamp spread by 19,000 acres in just one day.

As of Saturday night the West Mims Fire burning in the Okeefeenokee Swamp had spread by 19,000 acres in just one day.

The massive wildfire sparked by a lightening strike in early April, reached more than 135,000 acres by May, causing an evacuation for dozens of families in St. George, GA.

Fire crews from all the U.S. battling the blaze as local families sought shelter and tried to protect their homes.

"We sprayed the roofs of the house down and took the horses to Hilliard," said Travis Thompson, the owner of the Woofy Wagon on State Road 121.

Thompson said he's home is not on danger but he has family members in the evacuation zone.

"Some of my families houses--  it's about 200 or 300 yards from their house. So it was pretty scary," said  Thompson.

Thompson's restaurant has become sort of a safe haven for locals needing a place to rest and a meal.

That's where me met 10-year-old Jayce Bulger.

"I'm scared for my nana and friends here."

10-year-old Jayce Bulger lives nearby. He says he came out to St. George with his parents to help family members evacuate.

"It's pretty bad," said Bulger.

With 15 to 20 mph winds, fire officials say the now more than 135,000 acre wildfire has the potential to move one mile every hour.

The recent rainfall, according to officials, was not enough to make a substantial impact on the fire.
     
"The affected area only got  less than a tenth of an inch of rain," a national forest service rep said.
   
Forestry officials say the area needs three to four inches of rain at one time to make an impact.

The mandatory evacuation is from Crawford Loop Road south to St. George.

"There were at least 75 residents out there that were evacuated," says Shawn Bawden, with the National Park Service.

Bawden says crews are doing all they can to protect homes.

"Very heart wrenching to see these people have to grab whatever they can grab at last minute, personable belongings and their pets," says Bawden.

Thompson liens on his faith and asks others to do so as well.

"Just pray it don't come to you," says Thompson.

Officials say the evacuation order will remain in place through the rest of the night.
 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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