UPDATE: Crews still battling brush fire on Rocky Face Mountain
Fire crews have been battling a brush fire on Rocky Face Mountain since Thursday, October 27.
UPDATE: The fire on Rocky Face Mountain in Whitfield County continues to burn and spread. The Georgia Forestry Commission said over 350 acres have burned so far. The fire is 100 percent contained, but only 50 percent controlled. Investigators arrived Monday to determine the cause of the fire.
The fire continues to creep down the side of Rocky Face Mountain as smoke fills area neighborhoods, making it difficult for drivers and local residents to see. GFC there is one structure of concern for crews, and fire breaks were installed around the structure, Whitfield County FD was on scene with 2 engines, and the GFC had crews installed a hose lay behind the house for protection. Hose lays are a network of hoses bringing water up-hill to nozels, crews and various appliances used to wet the ground, extinguish fire, and provide protection to the structure and surrounding area. The operation was successful and the structure remained un-harmed.
Neighbors pull off the side of the road, snapping pictures of smoke billowing out of the side of Rocky Face Mountain. “We were curious so we went for a drive. It seems to be spreading every day. We keep an eye on it,” said Dalton neighbor Cory Glidden.
A large forest fire continues to burn hundreds of acres, as smoke begins settling in area neighborhoods. “You can really see the haze in the sky. For mile and miles, and when you get closer you can really pick up the smell.”
Crews with the Georgia Forestry Commission have been working the fire for days. Steep bluffs, and rocky cliffs are making firefighter's jobs difficult.
“Accessibility is very hard. Crews are hiking a mile, a mile and a half in it to reach the fire before they start the operations,” said Pat Stockett with the Georgia Forestry Commission. 50 crew members are working around the clock building containment lines around the fire. “This is our biggest priority right now because it is continuing to spread to the homes on the bottom of the mountain. We do have a containment line around the fire, we are working to speed up the control of it.”
In 2007, there was a fire in the same location. The previous containment lines help fire fighters stop the fire from spreading. “We have the old containment lines we put in in 2007 all of those lines are being reopened, improved and widened.”
Rangers said the smoke isn't causing any health risks. They ask area homeowners to clean leaves from property and pick up any debris to prevent further damage. “If a fire does happen, we will be there but a little prevention from the homeowner is worth its weight in gold.”
The Georgia Forestry Commission plans to be in Whitfield County, fighting this fire for the next couple of weeks. They ask everyone to avoid going near the mountain.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Rocky Face Mountain did spill over the mountain Sunday night.
The fire had consumed approximately 212 acres on the mountain.
A 1.2 mile-long fire break on the east side has been utilized to protect the houses.
Officials say the fire is 100% contained, and 45% controlled overall.
Pat Stockett of the Georgia Forestry Commission explains that containment means the actual fire break around the fire, compared to controlling a fire which means the fire will stay within the breaks.
Firefighters are facing rocky terrain, steep hills, and dry weather as they battle the fire.
Crews of a 20-person hand crew, 2 task forces, multiple brush trucks, multiple structure engines from Whitfield County FD, and helicopter water
drops to help stop the spread of the fire.
A house at the bottom of the mountain is a cause for concern for firefighters, with the Whitfield County Fire Department assisting, with bulldozers installing fire breaks, and water drops from helicopters.
There have been NO evacuation orders issued, by residents near by should monitor news reports.
Old fire breaks made during the fires of 2007 are being re-opened, as well as additional cross breaks and contingency lines. The fire is currently creeping down the mountain at a slow rate of speed.
Fire crews will be hard at work again Monday after working well into the night.
PREVIOUS STORY: Two homes in Whitfield County, Georgia are now threatened by a brush fire that has spread hundreds of acres. The fire on Rocky Face Mountain started on Thursday and officials aren't sure what sparked it.
As crews enter day five, they hope to get the fire under control.
Right outside Janice Hasty's home in Whitfield County, she can smell smoke and see Rocky Face Mountain burning.
"It's burnt before up there, but it's worse this time," Janice Hasty, a Whitfield County resident said.
For the past few days, all she can do is watch. Hasty worries it could spread to her home.
She's even more concerned about her daughter's home up the street. It's one of two homes that could be in danger.
"It's going to be sad if it burns my daughter's house, but there's nothing you can do about it," Hasty said.
Right now, Georgia Forestry Commission officials said the brush fire has burned more than 200 acres.
Wendy Burnett with the Georgia Forestry Commission said the southwest corner of the fire expanded and moved up the mountain. Burnett said it's now coming down the east side.
They said they face unique challenges.
"There's a rock cliff on both sides of the mountain that the bulldozer cannot go on and some of the slopes are even too steep for our hand crews," Pat Stockett with the Georgia Forestry Commission said.
A helicopter did something mother nature won't --- made it rain buckets from the sky. On the ground, controlled fires are making sure when the fire reaches those spots, it'll burn out.
A contingency line separates homes from the fire.
"Just be cautious. Keep your eyes out. Know that we're here. We're here to protect you. We're here to help you," Stockett said.
Local firefighters are keeping watch while asking homeowners to keep their yards clean of any debris.
"I hope they get that out," Hasty said.
Right now, officials are urging people to stay off of the mountain while they battle the brush fire. They hope to have the fire under control by Monday.