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Woman Charged With Setting Four Florida Fires

From Associated Press

A Florida woman who was “mad at her family” was arrested Wednesday on charges of setting four brush fires, while firefighters used helicopters to dump more water on a week-old blaze that has burned 26,800 acres in the northern part of the state.

Authorities arrested Karen Pearce, 31, of Perry, and charged her with setting four fires in Taylor County, state Forestry Division spokeswoman Jodi Chase said.

Chase said the woman was “mad at her family . . . so she set fires around her parents’ property to scare them.” Pearce reported the blazes, each of which was quickly contained, Chase added. Bail was set at $100,000, and Pearce could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on arson charges.

Meanwhile, Florida firefighters were concerned that the northeast corner of a huge fire in Madison County could flare again, said Angela Hendrieth, another Forestry Division spokeswoman.

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‘A Lot of Lightning’

Officials were worried about lightning as thunderstorms moved across the fire area. “The storms put out a little rain and a lot of lightning, and the lightning starts 10 more fires,” Hendrieth said.

The division hopes to cut back its firefighting personnel by this weekend, she said. About 137 persons worked on the fire lines Wednesday, including state firefighters, crews from Alabama and the National Guard, which supplied helicopters to drop water.

Four miles from the Florida state line, a fire raged through the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia, Hendrieth said. The fire has burned 2,800 acres in Georgia, she said.

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Elsewhere, fires smoldered at 16 swampy locations in four southwest Florida counties, Hendrieth said. Some of the muck fires could burn slowly for days and even weeks, she said.


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