Getting dangerous wildfires under control -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Getting dangerous wildfires under control

March 14, 2007

Albany -- We're in the middle of Georgia's wildfire season, and it's a busy one for Georgia Forest Rangers. The latest data from the Georgia Forestry Commission shows more than 9,000 acres of land have already burned this season.

Rangers are cracking down on people breaking the law when it comes to outdoor burning.

Georgia's fire season runs from February through April and this month is the time to be on high alert. Rangers say weather conditions such as low humidity and high wind contribute to wildfires. Firefighters in Lee County say that caused a controlled fire to go out of control Wednesday afternoon.

It's a hot time of year for firefighters putting out wildfires. This one began on Northampton Road in Lee County. After a burn pile near Michael Bass's home re-ignited and spread three days after he put it out.

"When I left here I didn't notice anything. It may have been smoldering when I left. But it just goes to show that it can happen anytime," said Michael Bass.

Especially when the weather is dry and windy, and when the burn pile is too close to the woods, without a break.

The Forestry Commission says controlled burns getting out of control happen all too frequently this time of year. So it's up to you to keep your home and property safe.

Forestry Rangers say call them for a permit before you burn because it's against the law without one. They suggest using common sense by doing the following.

Have a fire break around the perimeter.

Don't leave your fire unattended.

Consider using a barrel or digging a pit to keep it contained.

And keep an eye on your burn pile even after you put it out.

"You need to always check it. Go back behind it. Go back an hour later and just look, and make sure it's not come back to life. Because they will do that," Chief Ranger Deanne Pietras.

Michael Bass thought he put his fire completely out by drenching it with water, but he didn't double check on it, or think that weather conditions would allow it to rekindle.

"I'm just very grateful it was in the wooded area, and it wasn't my home. It would have been terrible to come home and my house had been burnt down," said Bass.

Bass feels lucky this time because the fire didn't threaten any homes or people. But other fires already have and will continue to endanger others this season, unless people keep prevention in mind when burning.

To get a burning permit from the Forestry Commission you should visit your local office or call 1-877-OK-2-BURN.

Ranger remind everyone that burning without a permit is a misdemeanor charge, and you may be charged for commission's services to put a fire out.

Some of the largest fires so far this season were in the southwest Georgia Region. Worth, Atkinson, Lowndes, and Dougherty Counties have had among the biggest blazes so far.



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