Firstly, he set fire to both ends of the first stick, which took an hour to burn (as it was burning with twice the rate.) [Count 1 hour].
As soon as it finished burning, he set fire to both ends of the second stick and one end of the third stick simultaneously; the second stick took another one hour to burn [Count 2 hours].
As soon as the second stick has burned off, George lit the other end too, of the third stick. As this stick had already burned for one hour already, with one hour remaining, it took half an hour to burn the remaining half. [Count 2½ hours.]