ST. GEORGE, Ga. – The Latest on wildfires spreading in the Okefenokee swamp in southern Georgia (all times local):
Many residents of a small southeast Georgia community are waiting despite orders to evacuate after a wildfire burning in the Okefenokee Swamp crept to the edge of town.
The air smelled like a campfire Monday outside Mason Pair's home in St. George as he pointed to large flakes of ash in his front yard. Pair said the ashes rained down the night before as he used a sprinkler to hose down his roof.
He said he could see the orange glow of fire through the trees. It's been "a little unnerving," he said, "But the flames are going to have to push people out of here."
This past weekend, local authorities ordered a mandatory evacuation for St. George's roughly 2,000 residents as flames crept within 3 miles (5 kilometers) of the community.
Officials extended a mandatory evacuation to other communities on Monday as a wildfire near the Georgia-Florida line threatened small communities along the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge supervisory ranger Susan Heisey said in a statement that the small Charlton County communities of Moniac and Canady Loop have been ordered to evacuate.
She said the fire had crossed Ga. Highway 94 south of the refuge but did not know how many people have evacuated the area.
The unincorporated community of St. George, south of Folkston, already was under a mandatory evacuation order and area schools closed Monday.
The fire was started by a lightning strike April 6 and has burned about 130,000 acres (52,550 hectares). Wind gusts and dry conditions are raising the risk of the fire spreading. Hundreds of personnel are fighting the flames, authorities say.