(File photo by Chuck Peters)
The Georgia Forestry Commission (GFC) has not yet confirmed or denied arson in any of the Dade County wildfires, beyond admitting that several of the fires are "under investigation," but it is now offering an anonymous arson reporting line and email address. If you suspect arson and wish to report it with or without giving your name, please call 1-800-GA-TREES (428-7337) or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
A GFC press release on Sunday evening said the commission had responded to five new fires statewide on Sunday but reported the same six in Dade as last week--Tatum Gulf, Creek Road, Sarah Chapel, Tower, Brow and Fox Mountain--with all fires at 100 percent containment except the whopper, Tatum Gulf, currently at 2836 acres and still only 80 percent contained.
Around 70 firefighters from GFC as well as the Georgia Department of Natural Resources continue to rotate through the north Georgia area, supplementing local GFC rangers and volunteer fire department firefighters, who also remain on the job.
GFC Public Information Officer Hannah Cowart reported that firefighters had been overwhelmed with the generosity and warmth shown them by the Dade community over the Thanksgiving holiday. "New Beginnings Bible Church on Tatum Gulf Road prepared hot meals and offered the church facilities for firefighters to use," she wrote. "The Lookout Highlands Homeowners Association continuously provided food, drinks and even made runs to local stores for firefighters. Countless other community members have offered donations and other support."
“I have never seen such an outpouring of love from local communities,” said Wildland Firefighter Terry Sowell of Georgia Forestry Commission’s Dodge County unit. “We have been away from home, but have found new friends and fellowship while working at Tatum Gulf.”
“Members of Lookout Highlands Homeowners Association even offered to bring firefighters into their homes for Thanksgiving meals,” said Eric Smith, crew boss for the night shift at the Tatum Gulf fire.
The GFC's public information office notes that wildland firefighting tactics depend on the terrain, fuels and weather. While wildfires in other parts of the state are fought almost exclusively using medium-large tractors, GFC personnel are working the north Georgia wildfires with smaller tractors that can traverse steeper slopes, leaf blowers that can be used to clean firebreaks on foot, and hand tools.
GFC reminds Dade residents that outside burning is prohibited in Dade and surrounding areas as well as at state parks and natural areas, and encourages homeowners to learn about its "Firewise" techniques at the following online link: