(photo by Julie Hailey Clark)
Four agencies are now involved in fighting the Fox Mountain wildfire in Rising Fawn, said Georgia Forestry Commission information officer Joanna Warren on Wednesday afternoon. The GFC and its sister agency across the border, the Alabama Forestry Commission, have been joined by federal entities the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs? "They're helping us out with one of their type-2 hand crews," explained Ms. Warren, "and we have one of their helicopters as well." A type-2 hand crew means a team of up to 20 people whose work typically involves clearing firelines around a wildfire, strips of land stripped of flammable material.
Ms Warren said that the four agencies are working smoothly together under a "unified command system" like the one used to fight this year's earlier wildfire on Lookout Mountain on federal park land. In a unified command system, an "incident commander," in this case Byron Haire of the GFC, directs personnel from all the diverse agencies in one coordinated firefighting effort.
How big a crew is Haire directing? "Last night we had about 80 or so, and we've had a couple more trickle in today," said Ms. Warren. She said the troops are being quartered in hotels as far away as Dalton.
One of the hand crews working on Fox Mountain, from a snap on the Georgia Forestry Facebook page.
Ms. Warren said she's working on getting a better idea of how large a chunk of land is on fire currently but that smoke and the ruggedness of the terrain make such an estimate difficult. The fire is all on private land, she said, and the owners do not wish to grant access to media.
She had no information to impart as to how Fox Mountain may have caught fire other than that is still under investigation. She said that how long the fire will take to control depends on wind and weather--some rain would be helpful but none is in the forecast--but that her best guess would be the fight will go into next week.
Again, earlier in the day Ms.Warren described the fire as about 40 percent contained, and said it was threatening a handful of structures: two cabins, a hunting camp and eight houses on the Alabama side of the border.
"When we say 'threatened,' we mean that the fire is headed in their direction, not that there's any immediate danger," she said at that time. She said no evacuations have been ordered in any of these cases.
She said the fire is mostly on the top of Fox Mountain and proceeding for the most part southeast and southwest, further into Alabama as opposed to toward Rising Fawn.