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Grass, brush fires plague county

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

CONYERS -- All lanes of Interstate 20 between Sigman and Panola roads were closed Thursday as firefighters battled a string of grass fires that burned along the rights of way of I-20 westbound.

Excessive smoke caused visibility problems for motorists on both sides of the highway as they made their way home in rush hour traffic.

Sgt. Jodi Shupe with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office said four fire trucks from Rockdale Fire and Rescue and a unit from the Georgia Forestry Division were working in Rockdale County to control the fires.

Shupe said the interchange at I-20 and Sigman Road was closed to traffic and cars were diverted from Old Covington Highway, which runs parallel to I-20.

Rockdale Fire and Rescue battled a number of other grass and brush fires Thursday, in addition to the fires on I-20.

"We have had a number of requests for assistance on brush fires today," Deputy Chief Mike Lee said Thursday afternoon. "One down off Union Church Road in the south end of the county; one off Miller Bottom Road in the north end of the county; another couple of small fires on Highway 138 North."

Lee said it was unclear what caused all the fire activity on Thursday. The grass fires along I-20 could be attributed to a number of factors, he said. "It could be a muffler dragging causing sparks -- there's no telling what it is," he said.

He said dry conditions may have contributed to the others.

"Maybe the grass has dried out a little faster than what anybody thought it was going to," he said.

Lee noted that the weather is getting drier as the cold weather moves out and asked that residents be extremely careful when discarding items that could cause fire.