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UPDATE: Windy and dry conditions spread Lookout Mountain brush fire

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DADE COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Neighbors and business owners on the Georgia side of Lookout Mountain are staying vigilant about the wildfire. Right now, no one has been told to evacuate, but they're taking precautionary measures.

"I've been here for 17 years and I've never seen fires like this here before, but we've never been in this kind of drought before," David Miller of Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding.

Miller is a tandem instructor at Lookout Mountain Hang Gliding. 

25 tandem flights were supposed to take off on Saturday, but the business had to close for the day because of the wildfire.

While they lost thousands of dollars in business that day, they're thankful for the firefighters who kept them safe.

Cloudy conditions on Sunday gave crews some relief, but they're still keeping an eye on nine homes in the area.

"County trucks in everybody's front yard, i think, in case it starts to threaten so that they can get people up there to douse stuff with water," Miller said.

Miller helped move dozens of hang gliders to a landing field down the mountain to keep the equipment safe on Saturday.

That's because Georgia Forestry Commission officials said the fire was heading toward the fire breaks and contingency lines.

Nothing was damaged and they brought the hang gliders back up the next day when the business reopened. Miller hopes the fire stays away.

"If all those fires boom back up again, it could all change," Miller said.

Crews will continue monitoring the fire. They're also using controlled fires to make sure when the fire reaches those spots, it'll burn out.


UPDATE: Officials with the Georgia Forestry Commission say the brush fire on Lookout Mountain has grown despite being quiet the past few days. 

The GFC says extremely dry conditions, increased wind speeds, and steep terrain have made battling the fire difficult. 

Officials have closed the hang gliding vista and removed the equipment. 189/Scenic Highway is closed from Burkhalter Gap South to the 911/cell tower. GFC says no one will be allowed through without proof of residence. 

Firefighters say a rough estimate of the size of the fire is 175 acres with potential to expand depending on weather conditions, fuel load, and the behavior of the fire. Dead trees and debris are being removed from the roadside and the mountain top to reduce the chance of spreading the fire. 

No evacuation orders have been issued for residents, but they have been notified of the fire activity and possible plans for evacuation. There are nine houses currently being secured in the event the fire moves closer to the houses. 

Resources on scene include a 20 person hand crew, 2 task forces including bulldozers and wildland engines, supervisors and various Dade County Firefighters and equipment. Equipment and personnel will change depending on how the fire progresses.
There will be GFC aircraft in the area and please ask that any air traffic be respectful of the flight space and allow operations to continue.


PREVIOUS STORY: Forestry crews are busy working a brush fire on Lookout Mountain. 

This one is on the Georgia side near Rising Fawn. 

Crews with the Georgia Forestry Commission get ready for another day along the fire line, packing everything they may need along the way.

It's day 11 for Doug Redding, who is about 5.5 hours from home. He said the high winds and steep terrain on Lookout Mountain make fighting this fire a challenge. 

"We basically have to rake it out if a tractor can't get to it. Luckily for the most part, tractors have been able to get to the most part of them, but we still have to go in and mop up and knock out the hot spots," Redding said. 

Into the tree line they go, without 30 lbs. of gear on their back and tools in hand they look for smoke, flames or anything that could compromise the fire lines they've already built and then attack. 

Redding said this kind of work is tough physically. 

"It's hard on my knees, it's hard on my back, it's hard on my legs. But we just take a good sleep that night and eat breakfast in the morning and keep going," he added. 

At one point, flames came dangerously close to a 911 communications tower which transmits calls for help throughout Dade County. 

"If we had lost communications at that tower, we would have eliminated all of those resources to a backup system," Heath Morton, Chief Ranger of Dade County's Georgia Forestry Unit said. 

The flames are almost under control, for now. 

If that changes, this team will be back. 

Crews expect to have the fire completely contained by the end of the day. But their job isn't done just yet, then it's back over to Fox Mountain where some brush fires have rekindled over there. 

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