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Wildfire at Bear Creek sparks memories of destruction

By Michelle Williams mwilliams@news-journal.com
July 9, 2012 at 11 p.m.


Fearing another Bear Creek fire along the lines of this past year's devastating wildfires, Cass County firefighters late this past week battled a blaze off CR 3777 for more than three hours.

Responders saved two homes and several outbuildings, but the fire claimed one storage building and scorched 15 acres.

Last year's record-breaking high temperatures and consistently intensifying drought conditions were primary factors in the duration and destructiveness of the Bear Creek fire.

The fire, the worst in county history, burned for 12 days and claimed 40,979 acres in Cass County and numerous structures, including homes, in Cass and Marion counties.

The county's timber industry alone was scorched for $349 million, emergency officials said.

"Not again," was one of the first thoughts of Fireman Bruce Hagins when local firefighters received a call afternoon to respond to a woodland fire.

The fire started around 2 p.m. on property owned by Forest Shearin. Hagins said six structures, including two homes, were endangered as the fire swept south and east of the buildings, igniting trees and underbrush in a heavily wooded area.

Responders from Atlanta, Bloomburg, Emergency Services District 1 and Emergency Services District 2 and Douglassville VFD battled the blaze in near 100-degree temperatures.

Hagins said about mid-point in the fight, winds kicked up and shifted. The fire changed directions, increased in intensity and pushed further into heavy brush.

Fearing the blaze would get out of control, Hagins said Liberty-Eylau and Miller County responders were put on stand-by.

Hagins urged area residents to be extremely cautious using fire outdoors.

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