It's time for controlled burns - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

It's time for controlled burns

Controlled burns keep vegetation in check Controlled burns keep vegetation in check
Jason Rex Jason Rex
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

This time of year, folks around South Georgia are bound to see more smoke in the air, as people conduct controlled burns on their property. But for those who aren't familiar with the technique may wrongfully assume a dangerous fire is underway.

The Chief Ranger at the Georgia Forestry Commission in Colquitt County says this is the busiest time of the year for them.  It's prime time for burning and folks are taking advantage. He says not all fires you see are concerning. 

Chief Ranger Jason Rex helps get this prescribed fire started assisting a landowner with a burn. "Leaves, pine straw, grasses, all the scrub species, that's all fuel," Rex said.

Fuel that's used to light this land up to safely reduce excessive amounts of brush which will encourage growth of other vegetation. "When you're driving around this time of year, you'll see a lot of smoke.  Don't be concerned about it because prescribed fires are a big part of what we do in South Georgia," Rex said.

Rex says 9-1-1 dispatchers are flooded with calls about possible fires from callers who mistake prescribed burns for dangerous flames. "If you see a fire burning in a straight line or you notice that there are people with it, generally, nine times out of 10,  that will be a prescribed fire."

Rex adds that often times emergency responders are stretched so thinly because of false alarms.  So he suggests looking for signs that the fire is in fact uncontrolled.

"If you can tell there was a cause, and nobody is around, like a power line is down or there has been a lightning strike, or maybe even possibly arson, those are all reasons to be concerned.  But if you see fire brakes and you see a lot of fire on the ground in a straight line, generally that's going to be your prescribed burner working."

It is illegal to burn without a permit, and Rex says it's important for folks to call the Forestry Commission before burning to make sure the weather and wind conditions are favorable.  

Copyright 2016 WALB.  All rights reserved. 

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