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Fire continues to burn on island

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POSTED: April 14, 2007 5:00 a.m.

A fire that has burned for nearly two weeks on Tivoli Island was still burning Friday afternoon.

Otis Willis, Bryan County’s assistant fire chief, said the county learned about the fire Monday, March 19 after residents of the area called and said they saw flames and smoke on the island, located southeast of Richmond Hill off of Highway 144.

"We’ve been working to keep the fire hemmed up on the island itself," Willis said. "We’re working in conjunction with the Georgia Forestry Commission to make sure it stays contained."

Willis said crews working on the fire put a floating pump out in the marsh during high tide to try and battle the fire. While it helped contain it, he said there just isn’t enough water in the area to put the fire out completely. He also said the area is hard to get to with the proper equipment.

"We have no way to get any equipment out there to completely put it out," Willis said.

The fire did spread to the marsh on Wednesday but Willis said it was put out and is now just burning on the island and there is no potential danger to homes in the area.

According to Willis, Tivoli Island is owned by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and since it’s an uninhabited nature preserve, the department wants it to burn out naturally. He said a good, hard rain would most likely extinguish the fire completely.

What’s causing the fire to burn so long is the composition of the island. Willis said the island is a large peat bog, made up of dead plants and other materials. He said the fire is burning down into the island.

Jeff Stone, chief ranger with the Georgia Forestry Commission who oversees south Bryan County, said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Stone said the island is accessible by boat during high tide and by walking during low tide.

Area resident Marcy Reynolds, whose home in Buckhead subdivision backs up to the marsh and overlooks Tivoli Island, said when she first saw the smoke and flames she assumed a resident across the marsh was burning leaves.

She said the smoke has been irritating.

"It’s everywhere, and it’s annoying," she said. "They tell us it’s a controlled burn and it’s under control, but why is it still smoking?"

Reynolds said she would hate to see the entire island burn, but it seems that’s what is happening.

"We’re just thinking is it going to slowly burn everything down," she said. "I would hate to see that happen."

 

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