Bulloch County fire Chief Christopher Ivey and four other local firefighters left Wednesday morning for Charlton County to assist firefighters from all over the state in battling a raging wildfire that has already burned more than 130,000 acres.
The fire started April 6 from a lightning bolt in the Okefenokee Swamp, according to The Associated Press. Thousands are being evacuated near the swamp area, including St. George, and parts of Florida, including Duvall County, are on alert.
"As some of you may know, the fire in the Okefenokee is still burning and only 12 percent contained," said Diane C. Rogers, community services director with Concerted Services Inc., which is coordinating a collection of donated items to help firefighters as they battle the blaze. "Parts of Charlton County have been evacuated, and the community is taking care of more than 400 firefighters who have traveled there to help."
Ivey and his crew have joined other firefighters from across the state and elsewhere to assist in fighting the fire.
"Chief Ivey headed out this morning with ... dedicated firefighters, one tanker, one engine and one brush truck to assist in the control of the fires threatening many communities in south Georgia ... particularly Charlton County," Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn said Wednesday morning. "Pray for their safety and some rain to assist."
Accompanying Ivey were firefighters Brian Hendrix, Reign Hooper, Zack Bryant and Timothy Kraus.
"Christopher says they had their first briefing at noon and will be protecting a saw mill," Wynn said.
Alex Smith, Bulloch County coordinator for MS Human Services/Concerted Services, said the following items, which were specifically requested by firefighters from all over the region who are heading to south Georgia, may be dropped off at "any Concerted Services Service Center or at our office in Reidsville": lightweight work gloves, bug spray, hand sanitizer, new boxer shorts (all sizes), eye drops, sinus medications, nasal spray, cheap flip flops and sunglasses, AA batteries, Gold Bond body powder, individual Tylenol packets and Wal-Mart gift cards.
Jacksonville media source News4Jax reported the following items are needed as well: bottled water, Gatorade, baby wipes, non-perishable snacks, bandanas, paper towels, ice coolers and washcloths.
Wynn said donated items also may be dropped off at the Bulloch County 911/Emergency Operations Center on Highway 301 North beside the Bulloch County Jail.
Those fighting the massive wildfire are to be assisted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well, he said.
"The need is great - let's pull together and help," Rogers said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.