Firefighters feeling 'optimistic' with progress

West Mims Fire 16 percent contained

Column of smoke rising from West Mims Fire.
Column of smoke rising from West Mims Fire. (Photo by Jason Corby)

ST. GEORGE, Ga. – Despite growing to more than 150,000 acres, progress has been made against West Mims Fire over the last few days. News4Jax spoke with a firefighter who said for the first time in a while, they’re optimistic with the progress fire crews have made.

Saturday was another day of unpredictability for crews battling the wildfire. Over the last two days, they’ve had a chance to strengthen the containment lines they cut earlier in the week to protect homes in St George, Georgia.

“Instead of maybe just laying back and holding it, we really attacked it aggressively,” Tom Stokesberry, at the U.S. Forestry Service, said.

Firefighters fought so aggressively that they increased the fire’s containment from 12 percent up to 16 percent.
“With the firefighters that we have on the ground, and the work they are doing, we have the confidence that we are turning the corner here,” Stokesberry said.

The winds are expected to shift Sunday and provide a little relief to the crews on the east side of the fire trying to push it back into areas that have already burned.

The potential westward movement could also test the work that crews have done on the west side toward Fargo, Georgia. Firefighters said there’s confidence that their lines will hold. Crews have strategically set back burns in efforts to help impede the fire.

“When we can do that, we control the speed of the fire and the direction, versus the fire coming at us much more aggressively paced,” Stokesberry said.

At this point, fire officials said there are no plans to issue an evacuation order for Fargo like the one in issued in Charlton County last week.