The skies around the Okefeenokee swamp are heavy with smoke and ash after a fire started by a lightning strike has burned more than 400 square miles of dry vegetation.
While the Honey Prairie fire has burned nearly two-third of the massive national refuge -- where fire is arguable good for the ecosystem -- large fires burning in Charlton, Ware and Camden counties have blackened another 64 square miles.
The Georgia Forestry Commission said Sweat Farm Again Fire that has burned 19,725 acres west of Waycross in one week was started by a spark from a road-grading machine. Just south, near the juncture of Ware, Charlton and Brantley counties, the Racepond fire has burned 21,000 acres just northeast of the Okefenokee. A forestry spokesman said that fire likely started from a lightning strike.
Only two occupied structures have been lost to the fires in southeast Georgia, but dozens of residents have been chased from their homes and some roads in the area have been closed as much as they've been open over the past couple of weeks.
About 850 firefighters -- from local volunteers to professionals who have traveled to Georgia from as far as Oklahoma and Maine -- are involved in trying to keep the fires contained.
After two Florida Division of Forestry rangers died fighting a wildfire in Hamilton County, just south of the Georgia border, safety is even more at the top of their minds. [Full story]
"It's a really tight community," said Sam Heffner of the Maine Forest Service. "So our hearts go out to the firefighters who knew them and their families."
Firefighters are being extra cautious, knowing winds could shift and conditions could change at a moment's notice.
"The firefighters really try to stick together and watch each other's back," Maine firefighter Steven Reed said.
Georgia is experiencing one of its worst wildfire seasons in decades and conditions conducive to wildfires continue to build. Forestry officials said the fires are likely to continue until there's a significant amount of rainfall over several days.
A Charlton County commissioner told Channel 4 what would help them the most is a storm with a name -- a tropical storm. While showers are in the forecast for late this week, that kind of storm is likely weeks away.