This photo from the Trenton Fire Department's Facebook page shows the DNR helicopter that aided the Trenton, Davis and New Home FDs and the Georgia Forestry Commission in battling a blaze on Sand Mountain on Friday.
A stubborn brushfire that raged up the sheer side of Sand Mountain on Friday tied up “date night” for the Georgia Forestry Commission as well as the Davis, New Home and Trenton volunteer fire departments. “We didn’t call it contained until 11 o’clock Friday night,” said GFC Chief Ranger Heath Morton.
The fire started around noon Friday near the second big curve of Highway 136 West and went up the mountain almost all the way to the top, said Morton. Several homes were threatened though none were damaged. In all, said Morton, 42.7 acres were affected.
Morton said GFC is still compiling its fire report but that arson is not suspected. He said in all probability the fire was started by sparks from a chain dragging on the pavement from a vehicle. Witnesses had seen several logging trucks going up and down the mountain, he said, and it is not uncommon for chains dragging from such trucks to spark small fires by the side of road. With conditions fairly dry for the preceding few days, and the slopes as steep as they are going up Sand Mountain, a small roadside fire can escalate into a mighty blaze pretty quickly, said Morton.
Besides the Georgia Forestry Commission and the three local volunteer fire departments, a helicopter from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources was deployed to pour water on the flames.
Morton said because of the steepness of the slopes, firefighters had had to battle the flames with hand tools rather than earth-moving equipment.
(Photo by Sgt. Timothy Stone of the Davis FD. He says the jeep shown is actually silver--it looks pink because of the weirdly reflected light.)
How big a fire was it? Not that big compared to the mountain-eating wildfires Dade saw in late 2016, for sure. Morton said the state average for fires is five acres, though, and by that measure 42.7 is a whopper.
But given the local terrain, said Morton, it’s probably about average.
“Over here it’s not unusual for us to have something that size every time we pull out the door,” said Morton.