GFC Rangers Say Hooker Wildfire Mostly Under Control



Katie Kasch Bien took this snap of the wildfire on Aetna Mountain, which spread to Hooker, from her Wildwood farm.

The Georgia Forestry Commission is winding down three days fighting an Aetna Mountain wildfire that spread into Dade County, threatening two houses on Hooker Cemetery Road. GFC Chief Ranger Heath Morton said the conflagration, which started as a campfire, is about 80 percent contained.

Morton said several hundred acres had been involved, most of it private land belonging to multiple owners though he believed some was on TVA right of way. "We haven't had time to get back to the office and lay it out on the maps," he said.

GFC was called in at about 5 p.m.Sunday , said Morton, and since then has been fighting the wildfire alongside the Tennessee Forestry Commission. It's been a tough one, he said, involving all his guys as well as the TFC staffers. "The fire was in a real bad place we couldn't get to," he said.

The firefighters opened up old logging roads for access and to make firebreaks, said Morton, then "backburned" certain areas before the main blaze could use them to spread. Those smaller "backfires" will continue to smolder until all the fuel is used up, explained Morton. "That's part of the mission," he said.

David Parrish, chief of the North Dade Volunteer Fire Department, says Wildwood was never in danger and his department had not been called in. "The only way we get involved in a brush fire is if it's threatening a house," he said. "If it's threatening a house or a barn, we'll go protect the property."

Morton indicated the danger from this particular blaze is past but that with trees beginning to shed their leaves and this summer's drought still holding Dade in its firm dry grip, the fire season is only beginning and this year's could be a doozie.

"We're expecting more of a 2007 fire season this year or even beyond that," he said. Fires in 1987 were about the worst ever in Dade, said Morton. "We're set up this time for the same type of deal," he said.

Hug a Firefighter Morton reminded Dade residents to be nice to Georgia Forestry Commission rangers, who spend this season fighting wildfires up close and personal. Normally, he said, "People just are mad at us because we pull up their land to put out the fires."

The Planet would add that that Dade's volunteer fire departments are owed a hug or two as well: Their volunteers give up their leisure time and, in the worst cases, their personal safety to keep Dade neighborhoods secure.


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