With Georgia’s West Mims Fire now making continual headlines, photos of smoke plumes and falling ash are seemingly everywhere. That means this photo from a couple weeks ago is sure to make the rounds, too.
Published April 28 on InciWeb, the shot of a firefighter carrying a fawn to safety quickly got buried in a tide of photos showing the fire’s massive smoke plumes and stories about the front jumping containment lines. Ash fell on parts of downtown Jacksonville, Florida, over the weekend.
According to the latest updates, the West Mims Fire has burned more than 140,000 acres. Another 7,000 acres has burned by Monday afternoon, and flame lengths up to 150 feet were reported.
Tuesday’s outlook was anything but promising.
“The fire will be fuel-driven and plume-dominated, meaning that when tall columns develop, they could abruptly collapse, sending downburst winds in all directions. Two columns could also develop at the same time,” officials said. “All this extreme fire behavior will create very dangerous conditions for firefighters.”
Burn bans are in place across a large swath of the state. Forecast fire danger indices for Tuesday called for “very high” or “extreme” fire danger in counties across the state.
“Florida wildfires have burned nearly four-and-a-half times more acreage under state jurisdiction than the same time last year,” said S. Kinley Tuten, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, according to USA TODAY.
“Florida is in the middle of its worst wildfire season in years – with no end in sight,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, CBS-Miama reported Monday.
While much of the United States has seen reprieve from drought conditions in recent months, the situation has worsened significantly across Florida since February, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The lightning-caused fire was reported on April 6 in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and has burned more than 135,000 acres. Crews on Saturday dealt with gusty winds and relative humidity levels around 18 percent, which drove the blaze past containment lines and fanned it farther east.
Similar conditions were forecast for Sunday, and evacuation orders remained in place. Additional heavy air tankers were expected to arrive on Sunday from California and Montana to assist the approximately 535 personnel assigned to the incident.
The West Mims Fire remains just 12 percent contained. No injuries have been reported. Full containment isn’t expected until Nov. 1.
Above: Logistics Section Chief Cindy Schiffer with the Southern Area Blue Team. From the video.
We appreciate it when local units put together short videos, especially at a fire, showing the public what they are doing. This particular one, filmed at the 21,000-acre Cowbell Fire at Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida, features Logistics Section Chief Cindy Schiffer explaining how her section provides the support firefighters need to continue battling the fire. It’s very well done.
The Florida Forest Service reported that on Sunday a tractor plow was overrun by a fast-moving fire and was destroyed in Okeechobee County, near NW 144 Ave. and NW 286 Street, 13 miles southwest of Yeehaw Junction. The operator escaped and was not injured.