SAVANNAH - Authorities believe arson caused a large wildfire that has engulfed more than 2,700 acres of swamp and forest in rural south Georgia, the head of the Georgia Forestry Commission said Wednesday.
Robert Farris said the state is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the blaze that's burned for more than two weeks in Clinch County.
No homes have been damaged or destroyed, but the wildfire has smothered nearby communities and highways, including portions of Interstate 75, with thick smoke. Authorities say the smoky conditions have caused several traffic accidents.
"There are large costs involved in the actions resulting from this arsonist," Farris said. "Think about closing schools and highways down, the impacts on the residents and health concerns with being inundated with smoke for weeks on end."
Farris said he wasn't sure specifically what evidence investigators found to determine the fire was set intentionally, but he said they were able to rule out other causes by tracing the blaze back to its point of origin.
No arrests had been made Wednesday in connection with the wildfire, which has burned since Nov. 9 in the 6,000-acre Arabia Bay swamp near the Georgia-Florida state line.
Firefighters said the blaze was 80 percent contained after they had plowed more than 970 miles of fire breaks around the swamp's perimeter.
No highways were closed because of the fire Wednesday, but the state Department of Transportation warned Thanksgiving travelers that smoke could obstruct visibility along roads in as many as nine south Georgia counties.