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Costly wildfire defies firefighters in Ga. swamp

Costly Ga. wildfire still smolders in Okefenokee after 6 months; could return to roaring blaze By The Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) ' A wildfire in the Okefenokee Swamp is still smoldering six months after it was sparked by lightning ' and it has cost taxpayers $52.7 million so far.

Arthur Webster, supervisory ranger for the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Georgia, says what's left of the fire is mostly burning underground in the dead plant matter that forms peat below the swamp's surface. The blaze started April 28.

Officials say the fire is barely growing. Out of the total 483 square miles that have burned, only about 14 square miles have burned since mid-July.

Still a crew of 59 firefighters remains assigned to patrol the Okefenokee fire.

Georgia Forestry Commission fire chief Alan Dozier says firefighters must be vigilant because dry, windy conditions could rekindle the smoldering remnants into roaring flames.

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