Wildfires that started a month ago in Ware County quickly spread throughout southeast Georgia, and now northern Florida. The fires have charred nearly a half million acres so far, and that's just in Georgia.
A thousand firefighters from all over the United States are battling the flames. The dry conditions aren't making their job easy. Of the 18 large fires burning in the US, 15 are in the South.
Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John Oxendine says it will take a major tropical storm to knock the fires down.
With the fires showing no sign of letting up any time soon, firefighters are in a desperate situation, needing food, water and Gatorade to get them through the long shifts.
Firefighters have been on the front lines for six weeks. Heather Hiott is the fire marshal in Hardeeville and she says she can't imagine fighting a fire that long.
"They can't be at home and they are away from their families," she said. "They are working hours after hours and I am sure they have to be exhausted."
That's why Hiott and her fellow firefighters wanted to help. The Hardeeville Fire Department doesn't have enough staff to help fight the fires, but they wanted to do something. In just one week, they collected enough supplies to take one truckload full to Ware County.
"We figured it was a way for us to help," said Hiott. "We are a small community. We wanted to help in anyway we can."
Help in the form of water, Gatorade, bandanas, and various snacks. Hiott got in touch with the donation coordinator in Ware County.
"We get an update on what they need," she told us. "They are in need of really anything they can get."
Rather than waiting another week till they had more items to bring, the firefighters packed up everything they could today and headed south.
"If they need it immediately, we should send it to them so it could be used," said Hiott.
Hiott says this trip down won't be their last. They plan to continue collecting donations as long as the fires are still burning.
"This is just the start of what we can do," said Hiott.
If you're interested in donating, you can contact the Hardeeville Fire Department at 843.784.2231. Here's a list of the items most needed:
- Individually wrapped foods
- Bottled drinks
- Insect repellant
- Plastic ware
- Personal hygiene products
- First aid equipment