Local firefighters helping with South Georgia wildfires

By Laura Ann Sills - bioemail

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - We have been dealing with unusually hot weather in the South, but imagine on top of that fighting flames that are up to 400 degrees.

Several local wild land firefighters have spent weeks miles from home in the Okefenokee National Refuge trying to contain the fires there.

One of them, Ray Brundage, said, "The fire is very unforgiving. Two of our wild land firefighters further South of here already found out what happens. They died in the line of duty."

Ray Brundage remembers the fallen firefighters and says their sacrifice reminds you to stay on your toes.

Brundage spent 14 days fighting the wild fires in South Georgia with others from all over the South East United States. He returned home to the Georgia Forestry Office in Hoganville a few days ago.

"You are working 16 hours a day. You do not know what day of the week it is after 3 days and you get to know these people and bond with them," explained Brundage.

He showed me the pack they carry, "It is got your gloves, radio, GPS. Back here is the main thing. It is called your fire shelter. That is the thing you hope you never have to use."

Brundage did not have to use the fire proof tent while in South Georgia, but said there were several close calls.

"They told us it is time to go back to the safety zone and let the fire go. It got us for that day, but the next day we gained ground on it. It is kind of like a battle back and forth. One day it wins, and the next day we get it back," said Brundage.

Brundage tells News Leader Nine he does not expect to be called back because the area has received some rain and firefighters are gaining ground on the flames.

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