FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. - Several brush fires that destroyed two homes and a garage and burned through nearly 200 acres of land near Highway 27 in Floyd County have now been contained.
Fire officials are still trying to determine what sparked the fires as the community begins to recover from the damage and disruption left behind.
A firefighter was injured, roads were closed, and several homes were evacuated Tuesday afternoon as firefighters battled several blazes along U.S. 27 south from Cave Springs Street to the Polk County line. About seven or eight fires were sparked along the stretch of highway.
It happened along U.S. 27 south from Cave Springs Street to the Polk County line. About seven or eight fires were sparked along the stretch of highway.
At least two dozen firefighters from Bartow and Polk County as well as the Georgia Forestry Commission are on the scene working to contain the blaze. One of those firefighters suffered heat exhausted and was rushed to an area hospital. Officials said the firefighter, whose name and affiliated agencies has not yet been released, will be treated and released.
Along Booger Hollow Road most of the dozen families evacuated because of the fire have been allowed to return home. The fire and smoke had encroached near their properties.
Fire officials said two homes were damaged. They said a detached garage at a home on Cave Spring Road with several classic cars inside was destroyed.
Mason Decker lives on Cave Spring Road. He said as the smoke grew he started to get more worried and ran to check on his neighbors.
“They were sitting in the woods, spraying the bushes trying to keep the fire from getting to their home,” said Decker.
Decker's neighbor, Janet Barnett, rushed home from work when she heard about the fire. She said she saw the flames chewing up the ground and heading for her home.
“The fire was about ten feet from our back fence, it was too close. I started thinking about what I should start taking out of the house,” said Barnett.
Throughout the night, numerous small fires continued to burn in the woods. Fire trucks drove back and forth along the roads keeping an eye on the fires, making sure they didn't spread.
Several roads were closed including Short Horn, Booger Hollow, Cave Springs, and Miller Mountain. Some roads just south of Georgia Highlands College along Highway 27 were also affected.
Students who take schools buses that travel through the area were also rerouted to Pepperell High School. School officials said they were given a snack until an approved adult could come pick them up.
Fire officials said the biggest danger overnight when the smoke begins to settle. Officials will be keeping a close eye along U.S. 27 to make sure the smoke doesn’t lie down on the highway, obstructing visibility.
Investigators said they will be looking into the cause of the fire. While they don’t believe it to be arson, authorities said they aren’t necessarily ruling anything out yet.
This has been a busy month for the Georgia Forestry Commission as they have battled several large fires. The recent severe drought mixed with the time of year, has made for foliage more susceptible to fires. The commission has not issued burn permits as a result and is asking for patience.
The state is also currently working a wildfire on Johnson Mountain in Bartow County.
Earlier this month, state officials said a large blaze on Fox Mountain in northwest Georgia burned thousands of acres in Dade County and across state lines in Alabama.
Alabama officials said Tuesday more than 900 wildfires have destroyed over 100,000 acres within the past month as the drought there continues.
Also just across the state line, the U.S. Forest Service said a fire at the Little River Canyon National Preserve was finally contained at just more than an estimated 300 acres.
U.S. Forestry Rangers in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia have also been busy. They said a fire on Strawberry Mountain which has burned about 477 acres is now 95 percent contained. Officials are monitoring the Rough Ridge Fire, in the Cohutta Wilderness, which is under a dozen acres and believed to be caused by lightning. Officials are also monitoring the 630A and Cloer fires, which are also smaller blazes, for any growth. Smoke from the fires can be seen in Fannin and Gilmer counties as well as Brasstown Bald.
Campgrounds within both state and national lands have tight restrictions on camp fires as a results.
This week, Haralson County as well as the cities of Canton and Blairsville joined five metro counties, Hall, Forsyth, Fayette, Clayton and Gwinnett, in imposing a mandatory burn ban. Anyone in the state of Georgia can find our about burn bans in their area by calling 1-877-OK2BURN and then at the prompt, press 1 and follow the instructions to enter a zip code.
FOX 5 Storm Team Meteorologists said the lack of rainfall, the warmer than normal temperatures and the dry humidity all are contributing factors to the growing fire risk. The driest part of the state is in the northwest corners where most of the fires have been centered.
They said over the last 30 days Atlanta has only received 6 percent of its normal rainfall, Rome only 5 percent and Cartersville hasn't registered any significant precipitation.
The one good news weather-wise, Hill said the winds, which could easily whip up the flames, are not that strong.
There is a slight chance for rain over the next few days, but nothing that will put a major dent in the current drought situation, according to the FOX 5 Storm Team.