Honey Prairie fire has burned 128,000 acres in Georgia and Florida

The Honey Prairie fire, burning in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia and Florida, made a big push to the north on Friday, prompting an aggressive aerial attack, but rain on Saturday slowed the spread. After the forecast of damaging winds and hail, fire managers relocated the aerial resources. Thunderstorms with strong, gusty winds and lightning moved through the area Saturday, bringing an average of 1/2″ to 1″ of rain across the fire with a few areas receiving 1″ to 1.5″. Incident fire crews quickly contained one detected lightning strike that burned approximately half an acre.

Here is an excerpt from an article at Jacksonville.com that was written on May 13. (The fire has now burned 128,861 acres as of Sunday morning.)

The effort to contain the Honey Prairie Wildfire in the Okefenokee Swamp has turned into an aerial battle.

Five helicopters and airplane tankers were dumping water onto the northern edge of the 104,936-acre fire in hopes of preventing its spread to Billys Island, one of the highest and driest areas in the swamp where it could race north, Georgia Forestry Commission spokesman Byron Haire said.

Officials directing operations had decided to let the fire burn inside the swamp and contain it once it reached the boundaries of the 430,000-acre refuge. But Friday turned out to be a day when the fire taxed that strategy riding southerly winds into places officials didn’t want it to go.

The incident response team used helicopters to douse the leading edge of the fire to prevent it from going around or jumping the Suwannee Canal and areas of open water, Haire said.

But the fire jumped the Suwannee Canal, and Thursday night a spot fire developed on the southern end of Billys Island, he said.

Below is a map showing the progression of the Honey Prairie fire as of Saturday:

Map of Honey Prairie fire May 14
Map of Honey Prairie fire May 14 produced by the Incident Management Team.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.