Augusta, GA (WJBF)-
The CSRA is having an abnormally dry April. Due to those dry conditions, a burn ban will go into effect for much of the state of Georgia this weekend.
The Augusta Fire Department is partnering with the Georgia Forestry Commission to make sure people know exactly what those rules entail.
The ban covers 54 counties, including Richmond and Columbia Counties, and bans burning of yard clippings or any other material. Contained campfires are still allowed for now. Burning trash in Georgia is illegal year round.
The number of wildfires in Richmond County during the yearly burn ban decreased from 301 in 2019 to 175 in 2020.
The Augusta Fire Department Fire Marshall says that’s because they were able to get the word out about the ban.
“Now this year is off to a hot start, because we’re up into the 60’s already. but hopefully, after this message comes out, it’ll taper that down some. So, education is the key,” said Lerone Beasley. “We just have to keep getting out there and letting everybody know. Make them aware. Because if you don’t know, you don’t know. And if you do know, you should do better.”
Officials from the Georgia Forestry Commission say that in conditions as dry as these it’s easy for small fires to start to burn out of control.
“What’s been happening is, we’ve had a really dry month. So we even turned the permits off. So people have been burning anyway. What they’ve been doing is burning, the wind’s picked up, it’s been really dry, so the fire got away from them. One case, what happened, fire got away from them and it got to a car. It burned up somebody’s entire car,” said Carolyn Head, a ranger with the Georgia Forestry Commission.
Both organizations are warning of the dangers of outdoor burning in these exceptionally dry conditions. They said that things people don’t think of, like heat from car exhaust, can cause wildfires.
“You believe you have it under control. I can tell you that Mother Nature never loses. If that wind picks up, your little outside fire, pile of leaves, could go across your yard, to your neighbor’s fence, to their property, in the wood line and for acres and acres in a matter of minutes,” said Beasley.
The ban starts May 1 and will last through the summer until September 30.
There are two ways to report illegal burnings. Contact the Georgia Forestry Commission at (706) 556-3962 or call 911.
Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins