Some 93 Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) firefighters as well as reinforcements from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources have been pulled in from across the state to fight the wildfires that have raged through Dade and surrounding counties this month. Trenton GFC Chief Ranger Heath Morton said Tuesday he hoped to get his overworked local guys home to their families for Thanksgiving, but for most of the out-of-towners mentioned above, home is not an option. How fortunate that Dade is the homey kind of place that loves nothing better than to get visitors down and feed them, by force if necessary.
Thanksgiving dinner will be hosted at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the New Salem Community Center on Highway 136 East atop Lookout. Assisting the New Salem community with the meal are GFC itself, the American Jeep Project, Antioch Baptist Church and the Lookout Highland Homeowners Association. Houses in the Lookout Highlands were threatened by the giant wildfire on Lookout in recent weeks, and GFC as well as the local volunteer fire departments worked tirelessly to protect those homes.
“Firefighters and Support personnel have put their personal lives aside to work in North Georgia protecting the lives and property of local citizens,” said Incident Commander Trent Ingram in a Wednesday press release. “These individuals are working long hours in extreme conditions..."
GFC predicts no break in the current situation, with the big Tatum Gulf fire only about 80 percent contained and no significant rain expected in the near future. It advises extreme caution over the holiday weekend. "Increased travel and recreation can lead to higher likelihood of fires occurring," the agency warns.."Use caution with grilling and any other outdoor activity in/around potential fire sources. A small spark on a bed of dry leaves or grass is enough to start a fire in these dry conditions."
GFC also warns operators of agricultural equipment to keep mufflers and spark arresters in proper working order,avoid rocks and metal when using a blade or a mower and regularly check bearings for overheating.
And it reminds all that a total outdoor burn ban is in effect for Dade as well as other northern Georgia counties, with campfires verboten in state parks and management areas.