Wildfire season starts early in Georgia - CBS46 News

Wildfire season starts early in Georgia

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It's rare for north Georgia to have massive wildfires burning similar to those in Western states, but it's not impossible.

The chief forest ranger for Coweta, South Fulton and Fayette said people need to be extra cautious over the next couple of days.

"The fire danger is high, we don't have to worry as much in Georgia, but if someone leaves a fire burning, it could spread to nearby trees and that would be a big problem," said Terry Quigley.

Quigley said high winds, low humidity and a lot of fuel are the perfect combinations for a brush fire to ignite.

Two fires burned along Interstate 20 in DeKalb on Tuesday and another today. 

The fire on Tuesday came within a few feet of a row of townhomes. Residents grabbed hoses to spray down the grass while they waited for DeKalb firefighters to respond.

"In DeKalb, where fire started on I-20, the wind yesterday and humidity was perfect for a fire, and that pain straw and hay, it really burned it up real fast," said Quigley. "It is just harder to stop a fire like that, even with water, you just can't get it wet enough. We have to dig fire breaks with our tractor and dig ditches around fires." 

Georgia is one of a handful of states that over the past two days have battled brush fires.  Florida and New York had wildfires consume more than a thousand acres and destroy homes.  In New York near Long Island, a fast-moving brush fire injured three firefighters.

Quigley said people going to parks or burning at their homes should be smart.

"Most fires are human caused or by lightning. So people need to be careful, more careful than you usually are, we are on a heightened alert on a red flag warning," said Quigley.

During the next two to three days, Quigley said his crews with the Georgia Forestry Commission will be on call, waiting to respond in case a fire breaks out.

"We have three bulldozers and some brush trucks equipped with 150 gallons of water to fight roadside or lawn fires," said Quigley.

Because of the warm winter, vegetation in some areas is very lush and hasn't turned green yet. 

"This fire season started earlier because of our warm winter," said Quigley. 

People going to Cochran Mill Nature Center in Palmetto said they enjoyed their day out, but were cautious not to set the forest on fire.

"You have to be," said Kyle Kincaid from Stockbridge. "If you are around a place that doesn't have a water hose, I try to keep a bucket of ice or water hose from a creek or lake. Whatever, just in case anything does happen."

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