Only you can prevent forest fires - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Only you can prevent forest fires

June 16, 2006 

The numbers are in and they're not looking good.  "This time last year we experienced a drought index of 99. This year at the same time, we've experienced a drought index of 345 so you can see by the figures we are a little dryer," said Forestry Ranger Graeme Treloar.

The dry weather has led to an increase in both the number of wildfires and the amount of land affected by these fires.  Reports indicate Lowndes County has seen eighty-three wildfires this year compared to sixty three last year. The acreage affected has more than doubled since 2005.

Most of these fires are started from what begins as an innocent household chore.  "The most common caused reason for wildfires in Georgia is people burning yard debris," Treloar said.  When the debris is left unattended or not properly extinguished, it will often spread to nearby trees.

This is something that can easily be prevented.  Fire Marshal Darrel Hall says "They do not need to leave the fire. They need to stay with it. Once they put the fire out on top, they need to take a pitch fork or shovel, turn the debris, put more water on it and make sure its out."

Be sure to check with your local fire agency or forestry department for burn bans.   In extremely dry conditions, starting any type of fire will be prohibited.

Also be sure to have a permit when burning debris.  If you don't and the fire does spread, you will be heavily fined and held accountable for all damages.