FOLKSTON, Ga. (AP) –
UPDATE: 10:15 p.m. Seventy-nine people in St. George in Georgia’s southernmost county have been evacuated as the head of the blaze is now within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the community.
West Mims Public Information Officer Michael Davis told The Associated Press on Saturday evening that firefighters will be battling the blaze, on the Georgia-Florida line, through the night. Davis says that there are 60 bulldozers, eight helicopters and three heavy air tankers on the scene to help fight the fire in the tiny, rural town.
Davis says that earlier Saturday the St. George emergency manager said the entire unincorporated town of about 2,000 people was under a mandatory evacuation order. Davis says the emergency manager later clarified that the evacuation was not mandatory and that only the people in the 75 homes closest to the fire were asked to leave.
The wildfire started by lightning on April 6 and has since burned more than 150 square miles (389 sq. kilometers) on public lands.
The entire town of St. George in Georgia’s southernmost county is now under a mandatory evacuation order issued after a wildfire in the Okefenokee Swamp began encroaching onto private property.
The unincorporated community has about 2,000 people. Saturday’s evacuation initially included a sparsely populated rural area of Charleton County from Jim Crawford Loop road south to St. George on the west side of Highway 121.
The area, on the Georgia-Florida line, is also under a dense smoke advisory that extends to northern Duval County near the Jacksonville International airport.
A temporary shelter has been opened in the gymnasium at the Folkston Elementary School.
The wildfire started by lightning April 6 and has since burned more than 150 square miles (389 sq. kilometers) on public lands.