Fight fire with fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fight fire with fire

April 9, 2007

Albany - There's a slight chance of rain late tonight and through Wednesday and that's good news. South Georgia is still more than a half foot below normal rainfall for this year. That means the risk for fires is very high. Surprisingly, one way to reduce the risk is to fight fire with fire.

It doesn't take much for a spark to grow into a fire. Deanna Pietras says, "Just a match can start a wildfire and it will grow out of control."

But when you take control of the fire, you decide where it goes. Mark Melvin says, "When we utilize prescribed fire, we utilize weather conditions that we select In a wildfire."

There's the perception that fire is bad. Mark Melvin with the Jones Ecological Research Center says that isn't always the case. He says, "The biggest concern is probably smoke. They see the woods on fire and think something's wrong."

Rather, burns like the one taking place in Southern Dougherty County today are good for the forest, and the folks who live nearby. You saw how little it took to get this fire burning hot and fast. Now just imagine this field had never had a prescribed burn. This fire would be massive and probably out of control.

"This is one year litter," says Pietras. "I burned this last year, and you can see how high it's gotten. And just think about what it would be like in two years, it would be twice this big."

 And twice as dangerous, especially since there's been very little rain in the past month. The Forestry commission is only issuing permits to plantations that have equipment on hand to fight fires. If you burn without a permit, you could be given a citation.

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