ATLANTA — Firefighters have been working all night in the north Georgia mountains to get fast-moving wild fires under control.
More than 13,000 acres have burned so far in Fannin County, near the Tennessee state line and smoke is still being pushed south into the metro, causing health concerns.
Towns in the north Georgia mountains that rely on tourists from the metro area expect the smoke to keep people away this weekend -- at one of their busiest weekends during the peak of fall colors.
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The Rough Ridge fire in Fannin County has now consumed more than a third of the wilderness area where it’s burning.
Firefighters with the US Forest Service have been working around the clock to keep it from spreading and to protect homes.
They’ve been using helicopters flying from an airport in Dalton to dump water on the flames, and overnight, they dropped hundreds of ping-pong sized balls that explode on the ground and create new fires.
“Either to put it where we want it so we can secure it, burn out an area that’s green, and bring it to a point where we can get it out, and therefore won’t spread anymore,” Clay VanHorn with US Forest Service said.
The haze hanging over the area is not good for anyone with asthma, allergies or breathing problems.
Doctors are telling people to limit their time outside.
Additional fire information
Overnight, the Rock Mountain Fire grew to 2,606 acres. Fire personnel conducted some back burning operations to protect homes and other structures in the evacuation area of Nichols Branch and Coleman River Roads. As a result, no structures were lost. The human-caused fire remains under investigation.
Responders continue to focus on public and firefighter safety, as well as protecting homes and structures near the fire. They also continue to scout and assess additional containment lines. Steep, rugged terrain remains a challenge.
An incident management team, with approximately 50 members, will take over management of the fire tomorrow.
Due to extreme fire danger and the current drought situation, a total fire ban is in place on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.
This means building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire (including charcoal based fire whether contained in a grill or not) is prohibited. Commercially available fuel stoves (camp stoves) are allowed.
- Pre-evacuation for the Plumb Orchard community earlier today.
- Twenty-four households evacuated the Coleman River/Nichols Branch Road areas last night.
- Rabun County Emergency Management Agency established a shelter at Liberty Baptist Church, 2206 Bridge Creek Road in Tiger, Georgia at the corner of Bridge Creek and Davis Gap Roads. Displaced residents have access to shelter, bedding, food and necessary supplies.
- Pre-evacuation for Tate City last night.
- Talullah River Road (Forest Service Road 70)
- The U.S. Forest Service plans to close a section of the Appalachian Trail this afternoon for safety reasons. Specific information on the closure will be available later today.
Donations: The U.S. Forest Service is incredibly thankful for the outpouring of support for the firefighters and other personnel associated with the Rock Mountain Fire. We will have a specific location set up to receive donations on Monday and will provide that information as soon as possible.
Air Quality: Smoke from the Rock Mountain Fire, as well as other fires throughout northern Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina, have the potential to impair air quality. Conditions may change quickly, based on weather, wind direction and fire activity. Sensitive groups including individuals with asthma, lung or heart disease, children, older adults and pregnant women should take precautions to avoid exposure to smoke. If you feel like you are having health effects from smoke, see your doctor or health professional as needed. Use caution when driving in or around smoky areas.
Cox Media Group