tampabay.com

Cross-country battles

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 10, 2007


Nature's fury made life miserable Wednesday across the nation, with people forced out of their homes by fires near both coasts and the Canadian border.

Georgia: After charring 167 square miles of forest and swamp, a three-week-old fire in southern Georgia has become the state's biggest since state recordkeeping began in 1957. Officials issued a mandatory evacuation for an area including the town of Moniac, saying that by early today it may be in the path of a 107, 000-acre blaze in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

Minnesota: A wildfire near the Canadian border in northeastern Minnesota had covered more than 34 square miles Wednesday, adding more than 8 square miles in one day, authorities said. It has destroyed 45 buildings, including multimillion-dollar homes, and firefighters said it was just 5 percent contained. More than 100 people have been removed from homes in the path of the fire.

A different Griffith Park emerges in L.A.

LOS ANGELES - Firefighters gained ground Wednesday against the wind-whipped flames that scorched hundreds of acres in Griffith Park, as many of the residents who had been evacuated returned to their homes and officials began to assess the damage to the city's largest park.

"The tide is turning in our favor, " said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Los Angeles Zoo animals that were moved to off-exhibit enclosures also were allowed back in their outdoor exhibits.

The brush fire was 75 percent contained by late Wednesday afternoon, and firefighters could have the blaze fully contained by tonight, Villaraigosa said.

While property damage appeared minimal, some of Griffith Park's scenic points and secluded hiking stops were destroyed or heavily damaged. A popular spot, Dante's View, was severely damaged, but Berlin Forest, which park officials feared was lost, appeared to have survived.

More than 800 acres, or nearly 20 percent, of the park burned. "Overnight, the park has changed dramatically, " said park ranger William Ramirez.