On April 6th a bolt of lightning struck and started a blaze inside the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, near the Florida-Georgia state line. That, in addition to the strong winds over this past weekend have spread the fires further into the park, to the swamps that have been dried out by droughts . This spread has increased the fire’s footprint by 76% from Friday through today, making the total size of the fire now at 70 square miles. In total, the fire has not burned a significant portion of the Okefenokee Refuge, as its square milage comes to 635 miles, but the flames have been going for 3 weeks straight.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the refuge and has decided to let the fire burn its course within the boundries of the refuge. In the meantime, firefighters are using bulldozers to enforce fire perimeters along the refuges’ borders to prevent any spread onto private land. Despite these preperations, there is no immenent threat to humans or private property at this time.
The firefighters who are currently managing the blaze are prepared for a long haul, and expect this to go for several months. Commanders have estimated that the fire will fail to extinguish completley, or be totally contained until around November. So far, there has been no real threat to the population, and officials don’t expect there to be any real harm. The only people at risk reside in Fargo, a tiny town boasting 320 residents on the refuge’s western edge. They, along with the residents of a rural stretch of Charlton County along the eastern edge of the refuge, have been warned to prepare in the case that evacuations become necessary.