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The Ware County Fire May 7, 2007

The Ware County Fire May 7, 2007. On April 16, 2007, a fire ignited in Waycross, Georgia. The fire has caused devastation and hardship for the entire community. .

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The Ware County Fire May 7, 2007

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  1. The Ware County Fire May 7, 2007

  2. On April 16, 2007, a fire ignited in Waycross, Georgia. The fire has caused devastation and hardship for the entire community.

  3. The Sweat Road Fire or “The Monster,” a nickname given to the fire by firefighters, is the largest fire recorded in Georgia’s history since the Georgia Forestry Commission began recording forest fires in 1957.

  4. With flames more than 120 feet high, firefighters with 30+ years of experience report that they have never seen fire with this type of behavior.

  5. To date, 100,000 acres have been lost and 18 homes destroyed by the fire. To date, over 100,000 acres have burned throughout Ware County.

  6. 126 miles of fire lines and 1000 miles of firebreaks have been created to keep the fire from consuming the entire community.

  7. Projected cost thus far is $18 million.

  8. Nearly 1000 men and women firefighters have worked day and night to contain and control the fire.

  9. On April 16, 2007, the fire burned 150 feet from Ruskin Elementary School.

  10. Smoke damage made it impossible for teachers and students to return to the school for several days.

  11. Sweat Memorial Baptist Church in Waycross graciously opened its doors to Ruskin Elementary School. More than 400 students attended school in Sunday School classrooms throughout the building.

  12. Daily changes in wind direction sent smoke to various parts of the community causing unexpected road closures.

  13. Smoke from plumes impacted visibility making travel potentially dangerous throughout the community.

  14. Approximately 1500 people were evacuated and displaced from their homes. Eighteen homes were destroyed by fire. Waycross Middle School served as a Red Cross shelter for evacuees.

  15. Ware County High School served as the staging area for firefighters coming from several states to assist with the fires.

  16. Ware School personnel met each day for three weeks at the Public Safety Building where they worked with law enforcement, the National Weather Service, Public Health, and Georgia Forestry to determine whether or not schools could open safely.

  17. On May 2, 2007, Governor Sonny Perdue declared a State of Emergency in counties affected by the wildfires. Governor Perdue visited Waycross twice during the fire’s duration.

  18. Current Status The black line marks the first fire which has been known as the Sweat Farm Road Fire. This fire is 80% contained. The Red Line marks what has been called the Big Turnaround Fire. It is 45% contained as of May 7, 2006.

  19. It has been said that Ware County has witnessed incredible damage and awesome power over the past several weeks. As firefighters fought to save our land, our homes, and our citizens, we have worked to help ensure the safety and well-being of our community’s most precious resource: our children.

  20. On behalf of the Ware County Board of Education and Dr. Joseph C. Barrow, Superintendent, thank you to those who helped keep us safe: Ware County Fire Department Waycross City Police Waycross Fire Department Satilla Regional Medical Center Fire Units From Georgia and Other States Georgia Emergency Management Georgia Forestry Commission Satilla Community Health Ware County Emergency Management Agency Ware County Emergency Medical American Red Cross Southeast Health Unit Ware County Sheriff’s Department City of Waycross Ware County Commission National Weather Service Department of Family and 911/Public Safety Children’s Services Waycross/Ware Chamber of Commerce Ware County Health Department Department of Corrections All photos are of the 2007 Ware County Fire. Photos courtesy of John Gibson, Carlos Nelson, and various media sources.

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