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The Latest: Giant air tanker to attack vast Georgia wildfire

A fire truck passes as a plume of smoke rising from a wildfire burning, Monday, May 8, 2017, just outside the town of St. George, Ga. Officials placed the town under a mandatory evacuation after winds pushed the fire out of the neighboring Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, where a lightning strike started the blaze a month earlier. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

ST. GEORGE, Ga. (AP) — The Latest on a vast wildfire threatening communities near the Georgia-Florida state line (all times local):

12:15 p.m.

Firefighters are calling in a giant air tanker to attack a wildfire threatening communities near the Georgia-Florida state line.

Susan Heisey is a spokeswoman for the fire command team. She said the modified DC-10 jetliner was scheduled to dump retardant Tuesday on the blaze in southeast Georgia after taking off from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The company that contracts with the U.S. Forest Service to provide the giant planes is 10 Tanker Air Carrier. The company says on its website that the aircraft can carry 11,600 gallons (44,000 liters) of water or fire retardant. The company says that’s four times more than any other firefighting planes.

Officials in Charlton County, Georgia, have issued a mandatory evacuation for residents near the southeastern edge of the swamp. The fire has burned roughly 220 square miles (570 sq. kilometers) since April 6.


3 a.m.

Officials say a huge wildfire threatening homes near the Georgia-Florida state line is expected to keep growing after recently escaping the boundaries of the vast Okefenokee Swamp.

The fire has blackened more than 210 square miles (540 square kilometers) of swampland. It’s near two small communities in southeast Georgia but many residents stayed put as of Monday, despite an evacuation order.

Tom Stokesberry, a spokesman for the command team fighting the wildfire, says hot and dry weather conditions expected Tuesday will be ideal for its continued growth.

Hundreds of firefighters are trying to contain the blaze, which burned for a month mostly inside the Okefenokee National Wildlife refuge. Last weekend, the fire escaped the refuge boundary.

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