While some Southeast Georgia residents have already been evacuated, Northeast Florida is on high alert as a wildfire continues to burn more than 140,000 acres of woods.
Volunteers are working to move livestock in the largely rural area to safety.
Magan Clardy was helping take care of two displaced horses at her parents’ house in the small Florida town of Hilliard on Wednesday. A brown horse named Lakoda grazing in her front pasture was brought there from Georgia.
“From what I understand, they were saying the house across the street had caught on fire,” Clardy said. “They needed somewhere to move their horse immediately.”
She and her friend Sarah Nelson are part of the “West Mims Fire Farm and Livestock Help” Facebook group, helping people move larger animals, including cows, horses and even some domesticated deer. Since Monday night, more than 800 people — from Georgia to Central Florida — have joined the group, many offering help or asking for it.
“We don’t mind helping get people’s animals to safety but we don’t want them to wait to the last minute and not have time to get everybody out,” Nelson said.
Nelson said she’s been getting calls all week, even late at night, from people who might need to use her horse trailer.
“Everybody’s asking ‘if we need to evacuate, can we count on you all’ and stuff like that,” she said.
The Facebook group was started by Michelle Lewis, who said she had to leave her pigs and chickens behind when she evacuated for Hurricane Matthew.
The Nassau County Fairgrounds is also open for residents who need somewhere to move their livestock.
The fire was sparked by lightning in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge a little over a month ago. As of Wednesday evening it was 12 percent contained.
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Reporter Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at@lindskilbride.