Change in the winds pose challenge for fighting wildfires - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Change in the winds pose challenge for fighting wildfires

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The Georgia Forestry Commission has been fighting three major wildfires across the far northern part of the state for more than a month. There's one in Dade County, one on Rocky Face, and one in the Cohutta Wilderness. Another one started Thursday in Murray County off Hightower Loop in a remote area off a gravel road.

The fires have been contained but not extinguished. So ranger Pat Stockett says we're not out of the woods just yet.

READ MORE | Wind gusts expected Friday could increase wildfire danger this weekend

"Some of these fires, unfortunately, are going to burn for weeks to come because of remote terrain, the rocky cliffs, make accessibility very hard for our crews," says Stockett.

As leaves and needles drop off trees and find hot spots, fires can flare back up. Mother Nature will throw a curve ball after a cold front passes through the region Thursday night. Winds will shift direction and speed up, making the behavior of the fires a bit unpredictable.

"With the winds pushing the fire and it shifting, we never know which direction it's going to go," adds Stockett. "We are preparing for it. We have additional resources. We have additional personnel."

They check and re-check vehicles and equipment and prepare to be out all night in rotating 12-hour shifts. The air will also remain very dry, and so will the ground because of the persistent drought. This could lead to more fires if people aren't careful.

"When you have a piece of wood the size of a pencil igniting at the same rate that a 4"x10" log is igniting, that's pretty bad," says Stockett.

She urges us everyone to obey burn bans and campfire bans and to call authorities if you see anything out of the ordinary.

"If you see something suspicious, if you see smoke, please report it," says Stockett.

Stockett says the latest fire in Murray County is about 30 acres in size. The Forestry Commission was able to lay down a line around it Thursday afternoon to try to contain it. Abandoned mobile homes, along with rough terrain, made getting there difficult. However, Stockett says there is no one living in the immediate area.

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