Okefenokie Swamp Fire 2011 – Effects – Brief History of Fires In Region

NE FL - SE GA Swamp Fire - Smoke Effects, a few miles west of Jacksonville, FL

Sunrise Through The Smoke

 

Every year in Northeast Florida we have a drought. Some years it is severe, other years not so severe; however, our Spring weather is mostly dry, with abundant sunshine. Due to the dry conditions, we often have several fires during this time of the year. Most of them are small, others are not so small.

In 1998 we had the absolute worst firestorms I have ever witnessed in my life time. After a unusally dry spring, massive fires started, in June. I was living in Jacksonville, not far from downtown, right by The St. Johns River, when all of this took place.  The smoke was terrible. I sealed myself in my apartment using duct tape, caulking, and Thermoply, and purchased an extra aircondtioner. I only ventured out for absolute necessities. The smoke was very thick, for a very long time, the fire was jumping miles, and miles, from treetop to treetop. The forestry service had their hands full. Just when I thought it could not get any worse, ashes started raining down from the sky. I am not talking about a little bit of ashes. There were a massive amount of ashes pouring from the sky, like rain would pour from a severe thunderstorm. Eventually the fire fighters got a handle on it, and the rains came, and life resumed, at a more normal pace. Anyone living, in the region, during that time, surely remembers how bad the atmospheric conditions were.

This spring we have had some problems with a huge fire, in the Okefenokie Swamp.The name of it is the “Honey Prairie Fire”. (hope I got that right) While not as large as the firestorm of 1998, we have had to deal with a bunch of smoke. I took this picture while I was trying to walk my dog. The smoke was so bad we had to take a break from walking for a week or so. Things are not too bad now, regarding the fire. Forestry workers lit many back fires, taking away the fuel, from tbe advancing fire. Its not over yet, but things stand in a better shape now, than they did a couple of weeks ago. I had to drive to the Veterans Hospital in Lake City, FL, from just west of Jacksonville. The smoke was so thick I had to slow down, and was late for my appointment by 2 hours. I could not see 10-20 yards, varying between those distances, in front of me, in several spots. Almost everyone was taking precautions, to not get in a wreck. There is always the exception, in these cases, and all one can do is shake their head, in amazement, of the stupidity people display when they drive wrecklessly,  in bad conditions.

Fire is part of the natural ecosystem in this area. Pine forests dominate the terrain, and we have a lot of swamps. The US Forestry Service conducts controlled burns, so that if we have a fire, it should not get too bad, because the fuel, for the fire, is kept umder control; however, there are places that are so remote, and inaccessible, all the forestry workers, and the people can do, is try to manage things once a fire breaks out. 

Just wanted to share the photo, and pass on what its like living here. It’s not all beaches in Florida. I live near a huge National Forrest called The Osceola National Forrest. I hope to be putting some photographs of it on here soon.

Thanks For Stopping By!

Have a Great Day!

Old Soldier

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