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Fire closes Highway 196 temporarily
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A fire engine douses Ga. Highway 196 with water to prevent an area fire from spreading. - photo by Lewis Levine

Despite weekend efforts by Georgia Forestry rangers to control a fire that has been burning in a peat moss bog near  Ga. Highway 196 since Tuesday, a thick plume of smoke blanketed the heavily used road, bringing visibility to zero at times and prompting officials to temporarily close the highway.

The Hinesville Fire Department and Georgia Forestry units have been closely monitoring the fire, which originally was sparked by lighting in the Terrell Mill Pond area between Airport Road and Kelly Drive, Hinesville Fire Department Chief Lamar Cook said. The blaze flared up Friday.

“We are concerned that someone may get into an accident so the decision was made to close the road as a preventive measure,” Hinesville Fire Department Capt. Kris Johanson said.

The Georgia State Patrol and the Georgia Department of Transportation closed the road from Live Oak Church Road to Airport Road shortly after 5 p.m.

Hinesville Fire Department members spent the afternoon dousing area roads with water to prevent the blaze from spreading. Fire units from around the area were staged on Highway 196 in case the fire did break through the road’s wood line.

“Right now, we are ready to fight the fire should it leave the area it’s currently contained in by having fire trucks on standby if needed,”  Cook said.

He said the fire still is contained in a heavily wooded area about a quarter-mile from any structures.

“The fire poses no danger to any homes at this time and we will monitor it around the clock,” the chief said.

Georgia Forestry personnel have been making fire breaks throughout the swampy region but have not yet been able to reach blaze to extinguish it.

On Friday, Georgia Forestry Ranger David Duke said the 800 acres around the fire are wetlands.

“We attempted to drive a tractor into the area and only made it about 300 yards before it started to get bogged down,” he said. “We don’t want to endanger personnel or lose equipment.”

This is not the first time the area has burned, Duke said. In the late 1990s, a fire burned for four months before rain extinguished it.

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