Fire conditions still dangerous across upper Coosa Valley; mountains on fire from Trenton to Rydal - Rome News-Tribune: Local

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Fire conditions still dangerous across upper Coosa Valley; mountains on fire from Trenton to Rydal

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Posted: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 7:00 am

Georgia Forestry Commission personnel from all over the state have been brought to Northwest Georgia to battle ongoing wildfires from Dade to Bartow counties.

Mike Brunson, chief ranger for Floyd and Chattooga counties, said the latest blaze erupted on Johnson Mountain in Bartow County, and he’s had a bulldozer crew from Rome there for the last three days helping plow fire breaks.

Brunson is asking the public to avoid any kind of outdoor burning until the region gets some significant rain.

Six bulldozer crews and at least 30 personnel have come from the southern half of the state to assist, many working the nearly 2,000-acre Fox Mountain fire in Dade County.

Brunson said that fire started Oct. 4 and was close to being contained before winds from Hurricane Matthew kicked the fire up Oct. 8-9.

Seth Hawkins, a GFC spokesman, said the Fox Mountain fire was between 60 to 70 percent contained Tuesday afternoon.

Some of the resources allocated there are being moved to Johnson Mountain.

The Johnson Mountain fire, where the four corners of Bartow, Gordon, Cherokee and Pickens counties meet, has burned more than 100 acres in the last three days.

Hawkins said that fire is being fueled by dead timber felled during a 2011 tornado.

Brunson said the drought situation is as bad as he’s seen it in at least 15 years, and crews have been back down to the Coosa Prairie area west of Cave Spring several times since a fire erupted in late September.

Brunson explained that leafs and pine straw are falling in areas still holding heat, causing flare-ups. He said the fire has now consumed close to 1,000 acres, and estimated the cost of fighting the blaze to be over $100,000.

In the last two weeks, Brunson said his crews battled 17 fires in Floyd County that have burned more than 220 acres, most of that near Padlock Mountain east of Cave Spring.

High winds associated with Hurricane Matthew spread the Padlock Mountain fire when a power line was downed and touched off the blaze on Davis Road Oct. 7-9.

“We had to go back Sunday morning (Oct. 9) and catch a small break over. While we were there power lines fell again and started two new fires, but we were able to catch those quickly,” Brunson said.