Lowndes County - With fires burning in neighboring counties, Lowndes County is imposing strict water and burning restrictions and penalties. Officials hope to prevent wildfires from breaking out in the county and to make sure they have enough water if fires do ignite.
The Valdosta Fire Department spent the last three weeks fighting wildfires in several surrounding counties. "We've been extremely blessed and lucky that nothing that devastating has happened to us," says Valdosta Fire Chief J. D. Rice.
But they say it easily could. "Anything that we can do to prevent what's going on in other parts of Georgia from happening in Valdosta and Lowndes County we're going to take some steps."
Those steps include enforcing the state's strict outdoor water use schedule. "What we have now we need for personal consumption and firefighting efforts," he adds.
And imposing tough penalties for those who don't follow it. "We could cut them off and charge them a reconnection fee of 50 dollars the first time or 200 dollars if they continue after that," says Valdosta Utilities Director Leon Weaks.
And there are even tougher penalties and possibly jail time for those who burn outdoors.
All outdoor burning in most Southeast Georgia Counties have been banned due to the dry conditions and the wildfires that have scorched more than 100,000 acres. "Our resources are very thin, stretched out. We've got out of state resources in to help us out," says Travis Watson of the Georgia Forestry Commission.
And for the first time, the burn ban extends to Lowndes County businesses as well. "Typically we always allow contractors to burn for land curing purposes for development. But with the restrictions now we are not allowing anyone to do any outside burning," Chief Rice says.
It will take several inches of rain for them to consider lifting the restrictions and to put out all the fires in neighboring counties.
If you live at an even-numbered address, you can only water on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.
Odd-numbered addresses may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.
You're only allowed to water between midnight and 10:00 AM.