A new north Georgia wildfire threatens homes

Wildfires burning across north Georgia

DADE COUNTY, GA -- Firefighters spent all day in one north Georgia community trying to protect homes threatened by wildfire. The fire broke out Thursday and raged all day Friday.

A mountaintop community called Head River Brow has been blanketed with thick smoke since Thursday – from a fire that has spread on the side of the mountain all day.

At one point, it nearly ignited a two bedroom cabin.  "Within about fifteen feet," said its owner, David Harris.  His cabin is one of many homes in this community.  Several of them had fire trucks parked in their driveways as a safeguard.

"As soon as I dropped my girls off at school I got marching orders from the wife to come get our wedding pictures. That’s really the only valuable thing in the house that we couldn’t replace," Harris said as he watched firefighters combat the blaze around his cabin.

Fanned by a steady breeze that has blown all day, the fire has been unpredictable. Firefighters mostly worked to try to keep the mountainside blaze from getting any bigger  -- by burning off potential fuel for the fire, and by digging trenches.  The airborne dumps of water were also a defensive measure.

"That doesn’t actually extinguish the flame," said Seth Hawkins of the Georgia Forestry Commission.  "What that does is just basically provide some moisture to slow the fire’s advancement down, so we can get our breaks in order and stuff before the fire gets there."

But with embers flying and sparking additional fires as much as a half mile away –  and with no rain in the forecast -- the long term outlook is thick with uncertainty in north Georgia’s smoke-filled mountains.

"We’ve been without rain for so long, and to have something right in our back yard, it is a little disturbing. And nothing (rain-wise)’s really in sight," Harris said.

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