CLEVELAND, Ga. — Residents of north Georgia got a first-hand look at how devastating wildfires can be this year. Now, White County Public Safety, the National Fire Protection Association and State Farm will observe the fourth annual Wildfire Community Preparedness Day Saturday, May 6 to help communities prepare for and work together to reduce their risk of wildfire damage.
On that day, White County Public Safety will host Information Day at Ingles, 55 Helen Highway in Cleveland from 10 a.m. until 2p.m. in an effort to bring together people of all ages to explain how to plan and participate in a risk-reduction or wildfire preparedness activity that makes their community a safer place to live.
“Continued drought, hotter temperatures and carelessness are major contributors to the increased wildfire activity we are experiencing in Georgia,” says David Murphy, Public Safety Director of White County. “That’s why White County Public Safety has organized our Information Day at Ingles and are committed to working together with NFPA and State Farm to make our community safer from the threat of wildfire. We believe Preparedness Day is a great way to raise awareness of this important issue. ”
Information Day activities will include:
• Goody bags for adults and kids (while supplies last)
• Visit with Smokey the Bear and see Firefighting Trucks and Equipment
• Sign-up for a Free Firewise Home Inspection
Projects undertaken on Preparedness Day can range from a short time commitment up to an entire day and can be undertaken by individuals or groups. Some actions residents can take to reduce the risk of home and property becoming fuel for a wildfire include:
• Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within a minimum of 3 to 5 feet of a home’s foundation. As time permits – continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
• Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site.
• Distribute wildfire safety information, like the free Firewise Toolkit, to neighbors or staff a table at a grocery or hardware store (other high-traffic locations work, too) and distribute free Firewise and emergency preparedness materials that can be ordered from the Firewise catalog or from READY.gov.
• Join forces with neighbors and pool your resources to pay for a chipper service to remove slash.
• Help an elderly relative or neighbor enter emergency numbers and the names of close relatives into their cell phones; and in large font post their phone number and street address above their landline so it can easily be seen when providing information to an emergency dispatcher.
You can find additional project ideas and learn more about the national Wildfire Community Preparedness Day event on May 6 by visiting www.wildfireprepday.org.
CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners held a two-and-a-half hour work session and called meeting Monday. Public Safety Director David Murphy presented his office’s 2016 annual report during the work session.
The Department of Public Safety oversees Animal Control, Emergency Management Agency, E911 Communications and Fire Services.
Significant accomplishments in the Animal Control agency include receiving $5,000 in grant funds for various projects such as adoption and the spay and neuter program. Murphy said the euthanasia rate has continued to decline.
EMA responded to163 events in 2016, more than twice the amount in the previous year. EMA employees also conducted 15 training events and completed 214 training hours. The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) completed 378 training hours.
EMA is the coordinating agency for all Federal Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security Grants for Public Safety. Pre-Disaster and Disaster mitigation funds are funneled through the division. The amount of federal support the county received declined from $77,408 in 2015 to $47,615 in 2016.
The 911 Central Communications Division operates 24/7 and is manned by four communications officers per shift. The call volume handled by the 911 staff increased from 111,226 calls in 2015 to 114,105 in 2016.
The Fire Services Division is manned by 12 career firefighters, 2 part-time employees, and 46 volunteer firefighters who cover 242 square miles. Response time averaged 10 minutes. Fire department personnel received 3,748 hours of training in 2016, including 2,745 hours of formal training and 2,976 hours of fire oriented training. The department has seven fire stations with one proposed station on Maudlin Road and another in the Duncan Bridge Road area of Panorama Drive.
During Monday night’s called meeting, the White County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the following applications for rezoning:
- Sue Russell’s request to rezone 1.34 acres at 1204 and 1206 Ridge Road in Helen from C1 Community Commercial District to C2 Highway Business District;
- Larry Freeman’s request to rezone 1.44 acres at 9669 Duncan Bridge Road in Cleveland from R1 Residential Single Family District to C2 Highway Business District;
- Elaine F. Reynold’s request to rezone 13 acres at 1679 Helen Highway in Cleveland from R1 Residential Single Family District to C2 Highway Business District;
- Kelly and Gary Mills request to rezone 5 acres at 457 Highway 255 South in Cleveland from R1 Residential Single Family to A1 Agriculture Forestry District.
Commissioners also approved the Alliant Renewal Option for the county employees benefits program which reflects a 12.46 percent increase totaling $193,098 for Fiscal Year 2017-’18.
CLEVELAND, Ga – An unidentified hiker was injured Wednesday when he fell from the top of the waterfall area of Raven Cliff at about 3 p.m.
White County Public Safety Director David Murphy said in an email that the hiker had gone to the top of the falls where he slipped and fell onto the last ledge before the main drop of the falls (approximately 55 foot vertical drop). White said firefighters from White County’s Stations 2 and 3 with mutual aid from the City of Helen Fire Department and Lee Arrendale Fire Brigade responded to the call and removed the hiker from the falls to an area where Georgia State Patrol aviation using a Bell 429 helicopter with a hoist extracted the hiker and transported him to White County Med 2 where he was further evaluated and then transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center for treatment.
White said the injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.
White County Public Safety Director David Murphy said in an email that White County Fire Services from Stations 2 and 3 responded to a 911 call at approximately 2:40 a.m. along with mutual aid from the City of Cleveland and Lee Arrendale Fire Brigade.
When the first unit arrived firefighters reported flames showing on the southeast corner of the residence. Firefighters quickly knocked down the fire, but the residence will be deemed a total loss.
The fire is currently under investigation.
CLEVELAND, Ga. — White County Public Safety Director David Murphy reported that rescuers from White County Fire, the Department of Natural Resources , White County EMS and Lumpkin County Fire worked for more than four hours to locate a lost hiker on the Tesnatee Gap trailhead near Cow Rock Mountain.
They hiked in about 35 minutes on a snow and ice covered trail before locating the unidentified hiker who, Murphy said, is an avid hiker from Rhode Island. She was not injured, but with the trail covered by snow, the hiker lost her way.
Murphy added the hiker was very glad to see rescuers as the temperature was 24 degrees with wind blowing at 12-15 miles per hour and the sun was going down.
All personnel escorted her down the trail.
CLEVELAND, Ga. — One day after rescuing a lost hiker from a snow covered trail in the Cow Rock Mountain area White County firefighters were searching for an injured person on the Appalachian Trail near Unicoi Gap in Towns County.
White County Public Safety Director David Murphy said temperatures were in the teens when the White County rescuers met up with Towns County Fire/EMS at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.
The City of Helen Fire Department was called in to provide an ATV because the Towns County ATV had mechanical problems.
Once the patient was located, it was determined the injuries were non-life threatening and he was transported by ATV to a waiting Towns County med unit.
White County firefighters terminated the call just after midnight. The patient had non-life threatening injuries; the call lasted 5 hours from the time of initial response to termination of the call.
CLEVELAND, Ga. — A White County man was killed and several homes suffered damage when a home exploded at 64 Rhododendron Lane in Mt. Yonah Scenic Estates around 10:48 a.m. Friday.
White County Sheriff Neal Walden said this afternoon that the home was completely destroyed along with several surrounding structures and while examining the scene and debris, the man’s body was located. Officials had not released the man’s identification late Friday pending an autopsy by the state crime lab.
Walden added that units from the White County Fire Department, Helen Fire Department, White County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Forestry Service responded and that investigators are attempting do determine the cause.
The Forestry Services worked to ensure the explosion didn’t ignite fires to the surrounding forest.
Public Safety Director Murphy told reporters Friday afternoon that “ It appears a propane leak inside the residence caused the explosion.”
CLEVELAND, GA. — White County firefighters from Stations 4 and 5 and Cleveland Fire Department responded to a fire at 95 Mason Drive Thursday at about 8 p.m.
Upon arrival, they discovered flames coming from the top of the chimney. The family had self-evacuated prior to firefighters arrival.
According to an email from White County Public Safety Director David Murphy, firefighters attempted to extinguished the chimney fire by dry chemical extinguisher and then water. Occupants were able to remain in the home once the fire department deployed PPV (positive pressure ventilation).
Firefighters were on scene for about two hours and no injuries were reported.
The family did not require assistance by the Red Cross.