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Georgia Forestry Determines Cause of Racepond, Sweat Farm Again Fires

10:42 PM, Jun 22, 2011   |    comments
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FOLKSTON, Ga. -- The Georgia Forestry Commission has learned what sparked two large wildfires in the southern part of the state.

Investigators believe machine use sparked the Sweat Farm Again fire, while it appears that lightning may have caused the Racepond fire.

Gallery: South Georgia wildfire pictures

"We have ruled out all potential causes for the Racepond fire except lightning and arson," said Billy Leitch, Lead Investigator for the Georgia Forestry Commission Law Enforcement Department.

Both fires have destroyed nearly 45,000 acres in Ware and Charlton counties. 

The forestry commission is getting help from several agencies, including the Georgia National Guard, but with these fires and the Honey Prairie Fire, which has scorched nearly 230,000 acres, Georgia has its hands full.

"We have to keep getting the message out," said Alan Dozier, Chief of Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission, "that conditions are not improving and the situation is critical. Until we see a significant rain event - five to six inches over a three or four day period - conditions will remain critical for wildfire activity. We're working hard to keep our people and our communities safe."

Safety was an issue for crews fighting the Honey Prairie Fire Tuesday night, as fire activity near Sapling Prairie in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge picked up. 

More 2011 Wildfire pictures:

St. John's: St. John's County wildfires

Smoky skies: Wildfire smoke in Jacksonville, South Georgia

Flagler: Flagler county wildfires

Guana River: Guana River State Park wildfires

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