By Dan Shapley
Think a swamp on fire sounds strange? How about fighting a burning swamp? Firefighters sent to quell the flames in the Okefenokee swamp face poisonous snakes, hungry displaced alligators and some of the most unyielding wilds in the continental United States. The terrain has frustrated many of the usual tricks of the firefighter trade. Try making a fire break in chest-deep water. The fire, which has been burning for weeks, has already scorched nearly 500,000 acres, including about half the Okenfenokee National Wildlife Refuge, is producing so much smoke that health officials hundreds of miles away warned residents about bad air quality over the long Memorial Day weekend. More frequent and intense wildfires
are to be expected due to global warming, scientists say, because a conspiracy of factors can lead to drought in many areas. Dry forests â or swamps for that matter â are more likely to burn, and more likely to burn hotter and longer if they are filled with tinder-dry fuel. Meanwhile, California firefighters are preparing for what could be among the worst fire seasons on record
. And elsewhere in Florida, even where the ground isn''t blackened, golfers are finding it easier to navigate water traps (they''ve dried up) but harder to find green greens
, according to a story in the May 29 Los Angeles Times.