Smoke clouding communities near burning Okefenokee refuge

(Courtesy: National Park Service)

FOLKSTON, Ga. (AP) - Winds are pushing smoke from a giant wildfire into neighboring communities near the Georgia-Florida line.

The National Weather Service says residents of Charlton and Ware counties in southeast Georgia can expect a smoky haze Friday to reduce visibility to 1 mile (2 kilometers) to 3 miles (5 kilometers) - and perhaps less than a mile in some places.

The smoke is coming from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, where a fire started by lightning April 6 has burned more than 120 square miles (310 sq. kilometers).

Forecasters say residents of Folkston on the refuge's eastern boundary can expect some of the worst impacts, and winds from the south may push smoke into Waycross to the north of the swamp.

More than 500 firefighters and support personnel are working to contain the fire inside the Okefenokee refuge.