ATLANTA -- North Georgia’s wildfires have left little room for holiday relaxation for the men and women from all around the country fighting them.
But that doesn’t mean that crews would be denied the chance to sit down to a quick break and a warm Thanksgiving meal.
The Rough Ridge and Rock Mountain fires in north Georgia are now a combined 46,000 acres in size and counting. While the fire didn’t stop for Thanksgiving, the community did – to say thank you.
Day after day, they battle the fire, the rough conditions, the steep terrain and the long hours. Thanksgiving day was more of the same.
“That’s hard and I realize that and our families give up a lot for you to be here to help out the people here,” Command Noel Livingston said. “So thank you for doing that and thank you to the folks back home for allowing you to be here.”
Livingston, who oversees U.S. Forest Service Incident Command, commended the Rock Mountain firefighters at the morning’s daily briefing – and the Rabun community as well.
They spent the last two days thanking the crews who are working to keep them safe.
And a hot plate of food and simple thank you can go a long way.
“The local community prepared it and donated all of it,” one fire official said.
“Thank you guys for everything,” another said.
Hundreds of men and women from here in Georgia and all over the country were fed, Thursday.
“The great citizens of Clayton, Rabun County prepared all this food for us, so thank you guys,” one firefighter said.
Local school kids wrote thank you notes and made cards. These communities surrounded by fire are thankful for those who fight it this holiday.
And unfortunately, it continues to burn. The Rough Ridge fire is almost 28,000 acres. It’s been burning for weeks and is now 71 percent contained.
The Rock Mountain Fire in Rabun and Towns counties is 18,000 acres and is only 35 percent contained. Right now, 515 people are dedicated to this fire as it spreads into North Carolina.
As of Thanksgiving day, 127,000 acres had burned in the southeast as more than 6,000 firefighters from Alaska to Maine continued to fight.
It’s a grueling battle sure to continue for some time with Christmas right around the corner.
There’s still no definitive word on when the Rough Ridge and Rock Mountain fires will be fully contained. But those that live in the communities the fire threatens are incredibly thankful, knowing just how difficult the work is.