One Campground Reopens on Cumberland Island

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January 13, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Small fire burning on Cumberland Island is near the center of map. Map courtesy of National Park Service

Authorities investigating a 43-acre wilderness fire on Georgia's Cumberland Island believe it was started by a person, but don't suspect it's a case of arson, the National Park Service's top official on the island said Wednesday (Jan. 11).

Superintendent Fred Boyles declined to give further details on the cause of the fire, which has been burning since Jan. 4 in dense woods on Georgia's largest barrier island, other than to say it was "human-caused." He said the investigation still isn't complete, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

"Do we believe that it was an arson-caused fire? The answer is no, we do not," Boyles said. "It was certainly not intentionally started by anyone."

Even if arson isn't suspected, whoever is responsible for the fire could face criminal charges. Starting campfires or any other fire is strictly prohibited in Cumberland Island's federally protected wilderness area.

Firefighters using hand tools surrounded the blaze with containment lines last week in an effort to hold its footprint to less than 1/10 of a square mile. Officials hope the fire will eventually burn itself out and soaking rains Wednesday helped knock down some of the remaining flame and smoldering hot spots, Boyles said.

Meanwhile, rangers said Wednesday they're reopening Hickory Hill Campground, one of the two campgrounds they were forced to close last week because of the blaze. The other campground, Yankee Paradise, remains off-limits to visitors. You can follow the fire's progress on our fire website, Inciweb

Otherwise Cumberland Island has remained open to tourists, with the fire affecting just a fraction of its total 40,000 acres. The fire has posed no threat to the island's historic structures such as the 19th century mansions built by wealthy industrialists long before the federal government bought the island in 1972.

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