Firefighters from the City of Monroe and Walton County Fire Rescue have been helping fight the wildfires in North Georgia since getting the mutual aid call to assist last week. The last crew on this deployment left a 1 p.m. Sunday to head to Tate City in north Georgia. A crew of five assembled at the Fire Station in Between to load up and head on out.
At the same time, the crew that left on Friday was preparing to return. Walton County Battalion Chief Craig League said the firefighters that left Sunday were put to work as soon as they arrived.
“The incident commander in charge of the Rock Mountain fire received a mutual aide request for structural protection in Clay County, North Carolina, just across the state line from where our crew is now. The leading edge of the Rock Mountain fire has crossed into North Carolina and is threatening homes. There is another large fire already burning in Clay County, the Boteler Fire has burned over 9,000 acres,” League said. “Our crew has been mobilized and is heading to the community of Shooting Creek to assist in protecting homes.”
League said that local fire departments are part of a regional mutual aid agreement that enables departments in the region to request assistance from other departments in the cases of need for extra assistance. The wildfires, however, have required assistance from further afield. Crews from out west with more experience in fighting wildfires are also assisting in the effort. Local firefighters say they have seen crews from Michigan, Colorado and Wyoming. The terrain and conditions are very different to what firefighters from Walton County are used to dealing with.
“It’s very different. We have brush fires back here but we don’t have to worry about back burning fires and stuff like that,” said WCFR Firefighter Andrew Boyd. “We usually can contain it just ourselves or with the help of a dozer.” Boyd was returning for a second stint in north Georgia to help with wildfires. League said when this crew returns, Walton County Fire Rescue should be done with its share in mutual aid, at least for now. They have been helping protect the homes in north Georgia while wildlife firefighters have been trying to contain the wildfires and prevent any further spreading.
“Our experience is in structure fires, that’s what they do. It’s their bread and butter,” League said.
In the meantime, a high fire danger continues to exist in Walton County and a total Outdoor Burn Ban is in force until conditions improve and we get some rain. At the moment, the first hint of rain in Walton County is a 30 percent chance on Nov. 23. According to weather.com, no significant rain is expected in North Georgia before Thanksgiving. However, there is a 40 percent chance of rain to begin on Nov. 27 with an equal chance for the next four days as well as the possibility of snow.