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Cypress Lake fire update

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Posted: November 15, 2006 5:37 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2006 9:51 a.m.
Firefighters continued fighting a blaze Wednesday that had consumed more than 250 acres around Cypress Lake as investigators were trying to determine how the fire was started.
    Byron Haire, spokesman for the Georgia Forestry Commission, said there were approximately 25 firefighters on the scene from both the Georgia Forestry Commission and Statesboro Fire Department.
    As of Wednesday afternoon, approximately 257 acres had burned, Haire said.
    "It hasn't grown that much," he said.
    The fire did threatened three structures, Haire said, but firefighters were able to secure those structures with water and bulldozers to protect them.
    "We've had no injuries and no evacuations at this point," he said.
    The fire was almost completely contained Wednesday afternoon after firefighters spent Tuesday cutting fire breaks to help keep the fire under control.
    Also Tuesday, forestry officials brought in a helicopter to dip water from nearby sources to dump on the flames.  The actual lake bed is on fire, with flames fueled by dried grasses and peat moss. Cypress Lake was drained last year for repairs to docks and the dam, and drought conditions rapidly dried the layers of leaves, moss and other debris that had been underwater, Haire said.
    "From a local perspective, I think it's going really well," said Ted Wynn, Bulloch County's public safety director.
    In a few areas, the fire went across the break, affecting "a couple of acres," but firefighters were working to contain those areas and prevent the fire from spreading.
    The fire, which started sometime Monday, may have been started by a spark from a chainsaw, but officials said an official cause hasn't been determined.
    "From what I understand, there had been some cutting and a spark may have started it," Haire said. "It's not something where a spark may have jumped off and started the fire right away. A lot of times it can occur where the spark sits there and smolders until the conditions are right and then it flares up."
    A large band of rain was expected to move through the area Wednesday night, but officials cautioned about that rain putting out the fire.
    "Our forecasters say its not going to be as heavy as it might have been at one time," Haire said. "They're afraid we may get more wind and dry air after it moves through."
    Wynn said wind wouldn't help the situation, but the rain would be beneficial in fighting the blaze.
    "It can only help conditions. The moisture will keep it from flaring up," Wynn said.
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