FAST FACTS: The West Mims Fire is currently 21,308 acres and 3% contained. 265 personnel are assigned to this incident. Equipment resources include 6 helicopters, twenty five engines, 5 dozers, thirty six tractor plows and 1 hot shot crew.
Current fire situation: The lighting-caused fire was reported on April 6, 2017, approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Eddy Tower and is currently located within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, John M. Bethea State Forest, and Osceola National Forest. A Georgia Forestry Commission Type 2 Incident Management Team is assisting in managing the fire with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Forest Service, and U.S. Forest Service.
Planned action: Strategic firing operations will be conducted as conditions allow to bring the fire out to established containment lines. Crews will monitor and patrol for spots across containment lines and will work to contain any spots with ground and aerial resources. Crews used ground and air support operations to contain a spot that crossed GA/94 and utilized strategic firing operations to keep fire within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge boundary. Crews will work to strengthen and hold control lines near Council Road, Turkey Nest, and Cypress Creek to allow them time for further prep lines to the north. Areas outside of the Swamp Edge Break will continue to be monitored in order to allow for effective mop up operations.
Additional operations include implementing structure protection mitigation at Stephen C. Foster State Park as well as fire line preparations around three historic cabins within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and around facilities on the east side of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. Assessments were completed for private structures on Hwy. 177 yesterday to include areas in the community near Council and Fargo. Other operations include preparation around other resources values at risk, which includes endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker habitat on interior islands within Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
In addition to fire line operations, personnel have been preparing citizens in the surrounding communities of the current and potential impacts of the West Mims Fire. A community meeting was held on Monday at the Fargo Charter School for approximately 40 citizens, elected officials, and cooperators. The Incident Commander and several cooperators gave an overview of the fire situation, fire weather, current operations and strategic plans. The Clinch County Emergency Management Agency, in conjunction with other partners have been preparing citizens by providing them tools to aid them in potential evacuations. The “Ready, Set, Go!” initiative is being used as an educational tool to advise citizens within the community of ways in which they can prepare their homes and their families for potential evacuations.
Fire weather: A stable air mass will result in increased smoke concerns in the late evening and early morning for adjacent communities and roadways. Warm and dry conditions will persist with winds shifting out of the east/southeast with maximum temperatures reaching close to 90 degrees.
Restrictions and closures: FL2/GA94 from the agricultural check station at the GA/FL line to U.S. 441 in Fargo will be open from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
The Wilderness Canoe Trail overnight stops within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge are closed. Day-use canoeists and guided boat tours will still be able to access the trails.
A burn ban is in place within the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, including Stephen C. Foster State Park. The ban includes fires at designated campsites and charcoal grills.