To burn or not to burn. That is the question.
Georgia's seasonal ban on outdoor burning, designed to protect air quality, expires today, but emergency officials warn that extreme dry weather still makes it hazardous to burn trash.
"If people plan to burn, we encourage them to check the weather first," said Ranger Larry Felix, of the Georgia Forestry Commission's Harlem office. "If humidity is low and winds are high, we encourage them not to burn. Those are the two main factors that can cause problems."
Much of Georgia, including Richmond and Columbia counties, are under an outright ban on outdoor burning from May 1 to Sept. 30 each year.
With the ban lifted, residents need to remain aware that residential brush burning is a major cause of wildfires, said Alan Dozier, the chief of forest protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission.
"Georgia's ongoing drought is still of concern," he said, "and the major cause of wildfire is debris burning that gets out of control."
The burning ban, instituted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division in 2005, affects 54 counties, mostly in or near larger metropolitan areas.
The primary objective is to reduce ground-level ozone, which is formed from the burning of fuels and other combustible materials. High ozone levels most affect the elderly, the very young and those with asthma or pulmonary problems.
Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Permits can be obtained from the Georgia Forestry Commission by calling (877) 652-2876 or going to www.gatrees.org. The local forestry services office number is (706) 556-3962.
- Burn permits are good only for the day of issue and can be used only for yard debris, such as leaf piles, which must be no larger than 6 by 6 feet.
- Fires cannot be started before 8 a.m. and must be extinguished before dark. In populated areas, burning should be conducted between 10 a.m. and 30 minutes before dark.
- It is unlawful to burn man-made materials such as tires, plastics, paper or household trash.
- Permits will not be issued on days when fire danger is high.
Source: Georgia Forestry Commission