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Newton County firefighters spend Saturday fighting fires

COVINGTON -- Newton County Fire Service firefighters spent most of the day Saturday battling woods and grass fires that seemed to spring up throughout the county.

"There were several fires going on at the same time. Everything seems to come at one time," said NCFS Chief Mike Satterfield. "We had fires from the Access Road to Factory Shoals Park. Some of the fires were controlled burns that got out of hand; some that were suspicious in nature as far as how they started; and some we know why they started."

One of the fires burned about a quarter of a mile stretch along I-20 westbound near the Rockdale County line, much like the fires that created traffic tie-ups in the area last year burning along interstates.

Satterfield said several factors seemed to merge, which he attributed to the outbreak of brush fires.

"There's been an advisory almost every day for about a week or 10 days in regard to the low humidity in the afternoons," Satterfield explained. "Then when the winds pick up and add the dry undergrowth -- we've got a lot of vegetation out there that's not gotten green yet -- you combine all of that and you have a good recipe for a fire to get out of control."

He pointed out that the dry conditions make it easier for a fire to start and he asked citizens to be especially careful with any kind of burning they are attempting.

"You might think you have a fire out, but with these dry conditions, the wind comes through and fans the ashes ... they're blown away and there's a spark and that's all it takes," he said. "Even when there's a controlled burn, the fire is ultimately the responsibility of the person who starts it."