National refuge fire could burn 6 months

On April 6th a bolt of lightning struck and started a blazeĀ  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.

3 thoughts on “National refuge fire could burn 6 months

  1. It seems unreal that they could be comfortable with a fire that could last up to 6 months. I wonder if there is any protocol to help animals that live in the area? Obviously they cannot evacuate them and animals can leave on their own, but if they help move them or what they do when animals and wildlife are forced into urban areas fleeing the fire. Also how do they keep the area clear of people the whole time.

  2. It is so sad that we have no control over these crazy fires, because they spread so fast. I wonder why they have decided to let the fire burn its course and why they aren’t trying to find ways to slow it down or stop it altogether. And the fact that they know that some people could be at risk, but they’re not taking the most precautions possible, is really unsettling. I don’t understand why they can’t try and stop this from furthering more and more.


    An update on the wildfire: Since I posted this last night, the fire has grown by 22%. It went from 70 square miles of blaze, to 90 square miles over the space of one evening. This is a huge jump from the expected pace that officials were comforting locals with. It could wind up being concerning with residencies so close to the edge of the the refuge. According to the National Weather Service, today’s winds pushed smoke and falling ash onto several communities, such as Folkston, GA and Hilliard, FA, east of the Okenfenokee refuge. Some of the bruning has been spread to Osceola National Forest and John M. Bethea State Forest in Florida.

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