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Winds help Colbert wildfire jump fire lines

COLBERT COUNTY (AP) — A wildfire that burned for much of the week is suspected to have been set deliberately, according to officials.

The fire started Monday and was brought back to life by windy conditions Wednesday.

"We got wind blowing 15 mph almost nonstop out of the south, southeast," Jimmy Clifton, assistant chief of the Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department, said. "We're fighting a losing battle. The wind keeps blowing embers across the fire lines and starting new fires."

Clifton said the blaze jumped the fire line in at least five places before firefighters arrived.

Monday's fire blackened 250 acres of forest and Wednesday's blaze scorched at least 100 additional acres by nightfall. Firefighters contained the fire at about 9:30 p.m.

"Every time we put in a fire line, it jumps our line," said Coleen Vansant, information manager for the Alabama Forestry Commission. "We can't get our lines to hold. It's a very difficult fire to control."

At least one firefighter became overheated and required medical attention Wednesday evening.

John Everitt of the Alabama Forestry Commission's Colbert office said an arsonist started at least six fires near the Colbert-Franklin county line Monday.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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