Small crews making wildfires tough to fight

Governor Deal orders tougher water restrictions

RABUN COUNTY, Ga. -- Hundreds of fires are burning in Georgia and the U.S. Forest Service admits it just doesn’t have enough people to fight them fully.

Historic and unprecedented are the words the United States Forest Service is using to describe this Georgia fire season.

11Alive was told Wednesday these fires aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Part of that is the drought, a severe lack of rain, and the other is a lack of manpower.

Take the Rock Mountain Fire in Rabun County for example.

Officials said they would normally fight this fire with about 700 people.

Right now they have 202, and there’s a few reasons why.

More: 11Alive Wildfire special section

PHOTOS: Wildfire battled in several Georgia counties

First and foremost, the sheer number of fires is beyond what Georgia and the southeast is used to.

That makes crews very difficult to come by.

Plus fire season usually ends in the summer, it’s almost thanksgiving. 

That seasonal, summer help that local, state, even federal departments use to fight fires has already been laid off or they’re back at college.

More crews have been ordered and slowly they are on the way.

The U.S. Forest Service said there are three helicopters dumping buckets of water on the Rock Mountain fire.

Some people have asked about bi-planes like that spread fire retardant. 11Alive has learned they can’t use those on the Rock Mountain fire. That’s because the leaves haven’t fallen off the trees, the canopies are too thick to penetrate and the fire is on the ground.

INTERACTIVE MAP | N. Georgia wildfires spread, grow -- Check for ongoing updates 

The Rock Mountain fire will likely continue spreading across the state line into North Carolina.

Crews can fight it and contain it from the south.

They have a much harder time from the north because the forest is thick, the terrain is steep, and it’s very tough to get to.

Fire officials won’t give a definitive time frame for when these fires may be out, expect them to be here until at least December.

Photos | Smoke all over metro Atlanta


 

© 2017 WXIA-TV


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