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Coastal smoke drifting up from Florida
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SAVANNAH — Smoke from wildfires burning in northern Florida drifted more than 130 miles north Monday to settle over parts of Savannah and neighboring Beaufort, S.C.

The burnt-smelling haze grew thick enough for the National Weather Service to issue a special statement Monday afternoon saying visibility in some areas had been reduced to as little as 2 miles.

While a large wildfire continues to burn across more than 248 square miles in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge at the Georgia-Florida line, forecasters said that blaze wasn't the source of smoke reaching Savannah. Instead they said the haze was being carried up the Atlantic coast by winds from northeast Florida, where several fires are burning.

"The winds are ideal to blow that smoke across the coastal areas," said Julie Packett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Haven Cook, a spokeswoman for the firefighting command in the Okefenokee, said smoke from the vast swamp fire was being blown to the southwest Monday.

Cook said firefighters are continuing to make progress against the large swamp fire as well as the smaller Race Pond Fire that's burned about 12 square miles near the Okefenokee refuge's northern edge south of Waycross.

Authorities said the larger blaze, known as the Honey Prairie Fire, is about 80 percent contained. It's been burning since a lightning strike started the fire April 28.

Fire officials said the Race Pond Fire was about 64 percent contained Monday.


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