Wildfires prompt more evacuations

Fires burning from California to Florida.

BY P.J. HELLER | WAYCROSS, Ga. | May 8, 2007

More than 100,000 acres have been burned by a wildfire in southeast Georgia.

Wildfires racing through tinder-dry land Tuesday prompted hundreds of evacuations in at least four states. Firefighters were kept busy trying to control wildfires elsewhere.

Firefighters in Georgia, still battling a massive blaze that has covered more than 100,000 acres, also had to contend with another fire that spread into northern Florida on Tuesday afternoon. That lightning-sparked fire, dubbed the Bugaboo Scrub fire, has burned more than 31,000 acres since it erupted Saturday. It forced road closures in both Georgia and Florida. Some 200 homes in the northern Florida town of Taylor in Baker County were evacuated.

Florida officials reported about 200 fires burning statewide covering 43,000 acres. Fires were reported in 54 of the state's 67 counties.

The largest of the fires in Florida was in Collier County. The blaze, which grew during the day from 2,000 acres to 13,000 acres, destroyed one home and two mobile homes, according to state officials. A voluntary evacuation order was issued for some residents in the area.

In Walton County in the Panhandle, officials said five homes were destroyed and 13 others were damaged by a fire that had burned 800 to 1,200 acres.

A wildfire in near the Flagler-Volusia county line had burned 6,500 acres. Elsewhere in Florida, evacuation orders were lifted for some 700 homes in Alachua and Bradford counties, where two fires burned some 16,000 acres. Some 70 residents in Freeport in Walton County were also allowed to return to their homes.

In Georgia, firefighters continued to battle the Sweat Farm Road/Big Turnaround fire. Officials ordered a mandatory evacuation of the tiny town of Davis. About 20 homes were affected. Schools in Davis in Charlton County were scheduled to be closed Wednesday.

Officials said the Sweat Farm Road fire was 80 percent contained; the smaller Big Turnout blaze was 45 percent contained. No containment figures were available for the Bugaboo Scrub fire.

Residents in the communities of Folkston and Homeland were advised to prepare to evacuate.

The wildfires were pushed into the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, prompting the closure of the refuge headquarters.

Roads between Ware and Charlton counties remained closed.

In Southern California, 97-degree temperatures with low humidity and windy conditions help spread a wildfire in the Griffith Park area between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley. The cause of the Tuesday afternoon fire was under investigation.

By Wednesday afternoon, the fire had burned about 800 acres and was 50 percent contained. The fire forced the evacuation of a local school and patrons at visitor attractions including the Los Angeles Zoo. The Autry National Center, founded by The Autry National Center, whose co-founders include Gene Autry, was evacuated, as was the Griffith Observatory. Residents who fled their homes in the Los Feliz area were allowed to return Wednesday morning after an evacuation order was partially lifted.

Several other wildfires also broke out in Southern California, including ones in San Bernardino, El Centro and Camp Pendleton.

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota continued to threaten homes in the area. The fire, which has burned more than 16,000 acres, has destroyed about 30 buildings.

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