Wildfire Flares up, Jumps Break in Ga. County

Aug. 29--Firefighters, foresters and nearby families are keeping watch over a smoldering field of logging debris in west Bibb County.

About 3:15 p.m. Thursday, flames jumped fire breaks and a second round of helicopter drops were ordered.

Macon-Bibb fire crews got out brooms and other tools to try to keep ground cover away from the flames.

The Georgia State Patrol dumped huge buckets of water on the blaze Wednesday, too.

The fire at the dirt end of Tucker Valley Drive likely spontaneously combusted and grew for a while before it was reported just after midnight Tuesday, said those who are trained to detect the cause.

"Our crews are still out there, strengthening and reinforcing the containment lines around it," Georgia Forestry Commission spokeswoman Wendy Burnett said earlier Thursday afternoon when she reported the blaze was holding to the 5 acres she originally reported.

After crews battled to cut fire breaks all night, the fire jumped them in some spots Wednesday afternoon. A brick building that stored old tires was devoured.

By Thursday morning, it had calmed significantly with only a few patches of visible flames where towering infernos lit the night sky the day before.

Macon-Bibb Fire Sgt. Ben Gleaton said they were told logs had been piled back there for 20 to 30 years.

"It's not uncommon for that to decompose and catch fire, especially with it being hot and dry," Gleaton said.

A man whose family owns adjoining property said he had not noticed the log trucks going in and out lately, so it is unlikely a hot engine could have ignited dry brush.

Gleaton confirmed the trucks that burned in the fire had been parked for a while.

The property was still too hot for crews to get in to have a look, he said.

Macon-Bibb County firefighters walked in a pair to survey the perimeter.

And the Georgia State Patrol was planning a monitoring flight Thursday, when they were told to bring the bucket back for the new flare-ups.

Forest rangers got the tractors back out to keep it from spreading.

"We're basically waiting for it to burn out, or waiting for us to have a "significant amount of rain, and by that I mean 2 inches to get it out enough to look around," Burnett said.

Until a dousing rain, smoke will continue to hang over west Bibb County along Interstate 475 near Mercer University Drive.

Motorists are urged to use caution especially in the cooler hours.

"Smoke might wind up settling on the roadways," Burnett said. "The evening hours and early morning hours will be the worst."

The weather is expected to stay hot and dry Friday, but Saturday promises likely showers and thunderstorms with a 30 percent chance of precipitation. Sunday's forecast calls for a 40 percent chance.

The ground remains unusually dry and smokers should use care when disposing of cigarettes.

Firefighters have been called to multiple grass fires along the highway.

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