Showers Thursday help firefighters in southeast Georgia

May 10, 2007

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Calmer winds and a sprinkling of rain helped firefighters make some gains Wednesday on wildfires that have caused evacuations of hundreds of homes in southeast Georgia and northeast Florida.

Authorities hoped the year's first named storm would bring rain. But the remnants of Subtropical Storm Andrea were not promising much rainfall relief. Only up to an inch was expected.

Andrea weakened into a subtropical depression with 35 mile per hour winds this morning. It is expected to lose even more strength, a day after forming.

The two states have been battling blazes for weeks. Nearly 300 square miles are charred as a drought has left the land tinder dry.

Smoke-filled air created a burning smell and a dusting of ashes that coated cars and buildings through much of Florida and southeastern Georgia. The haze over Florida forced the closure of several highways.

Health officials warned the elderly, small children and people with breathing problems to stay indoors, although some areas were not as smoky Thursday. No one has died in the fires and just one firefighter had minor injuries.

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