FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. - A burned patch of land off Booger Hollow Road still has just enough brush to fuel hot spot, more than 24 hours after Floyd County police said a man in a pickup truck was seen taking off after a several fires were set.
“As dry as it's been lately, the easier this land is going to burn and the faster it's going to burn,” said Ranger Patricia Stockett of the Georgia Forestry Commission.
A wall of flames scorched the land in front of Vann's Valley Baptist Church off Highway 27, but firefighters were able to get the flames under control before the fire reached the church building. Kansas Nunley said she was grateful her family's church was still standing, but frustrated to hear the fire could have been intentionally set.
“I just want to know who would do something like this and why. Why would anyone do something that could burn a church and so much land and so much wild life,” Nunley, 17, said standing in front of the church she's grown up in since childhood.
Floyd County police are looking for a white man with long hair who was seen in a faded red or dusty white pickup truck. Authorities said he was seen in the area along Highway 27 and Booger Hollow just before the string of fires ignited.
Len Barnett watched from his home on Old Cave Springs Road as the flames climbed a hill towards his back yard around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“It was like a horror picture show. I've never been so scared in all of my life. It was like just one big orange flame coming towards you and there's nothing you can do about it. Fortunately, three fire trucks pulled up in the nick of time and started doing a whole lot more than I was doing with my little water hose,” Barnett said.
“It burned very intensely and very quickly, but firefighters moved quickly to contain the fires,” said Ranger Stockett.
Stockett said local, state and federal agencies pooled resources to battle the flames overnight and kept an eye on hot spots all day. Meantime, utility crews canvassed the area where about a dozen fires ignited to assess the impact on power lines and other infrastructure. Four cars were burned, but fortunately, no homes or buildings were destroyed. Authorities suspect hot spots could keep crews busy for days since Floyd County is still dealing with drought conditions.
According to Stockett, flames didn't spread as broadly as they could have in some areas because some owners had previously taken steps to make their land more resistant to wildfire. For more information about the steps you can take to help protect your property from wildfire, visit Firewise.Org.