Rough Ridge fire burns more than 23,000 acres - CBS46 News

Rough Ridge fire burns more than 23,000 acres

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL
FANNIN COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

Firefighters are making progress on a large wildfire burning in North Georgia. The Rough Ridge fire is now 30 percent contained. 

The fire burning near Blue Ridge has burned more than 23,000 acres, officials said Tuesday. It's primarily in the Cohutta Wilderness Area within the Chattahoochee National Forest. 

More than 200 people from various state and federal agencies from Georgia and other states make up the team dedicated to fighting the fire on scene and from the incident command post set up about ten miles from the fire.

“They’re actually lighting fire off of these roads to allow it to back into the existing fire,” said Susie Heisey as she showed a map of the fire. Heisey is a public information office with the Southern Area Incident Management Gold Team.

“So then what happens is that fire comes in to those burned areas, it’s much lower intensity and it basically just goes out on its own,” she said.

She said crews on the ground are the best defense, although they have the challenge of battling rugged terrain. They do have resources to fight the fire from the air, but that isn’t the best method of attacking the fire.

“When you dump water on this kind of fire and there’s a dense tree canopy, it doesn’t even break through that canopy to reach the ground where it’s actually burning,” said Heisey.

The fire has been burning for a month and was sparked by a lightning strike. The fire is spreading because of the dry conditions from the drought. Crews are desperately hoping for rain.

Heisey said, “Even after we establish greater containment there will still be pockets of the fire that will burn or re-burn as additional leaves continue to fall off the trees.”

Officials hosted an open house at the incident command post Tuesday night. Members of the public came out to learn about the operation and get a better understanding of how crews are fighting the fire.

Tom Striker, a Blue Ridge resident and former Forest Service employee, was among those who attended.

 He said, “It’s just interesting to see the level of organization. Lot of questions that people have, they don’t understand what it takes to manage a big fire. It’s really been something to see it in our little town.”

Update on the fires with Susie Heisey with the Southern Area Incident Management Gold Team

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DROUGHT IN GEORGIA
BY THE NUMBERS

Days without measurable rainfall

40+ days

Acres burned in Georgia

~33,000

Population in drought areas

8.7 million