Burn ban lifted for victims of storms

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- Residents who still have debris-filled yards as a result of the April 28 storms now have another option for disposing of it.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has temporarily exempted counties declared as being in a State of Emergency, including Newton County, from the statewide burn ban in effect from May through October. The exemption applies only to vegetative debris, such as trees, brush and stumps, and expires at midnight on May 31.

"Private residents who have debris created by the storm can burn debris without being worried about citations issued by the county or EPD. They need to follow normal protocol for burning," said Jody Nolan, deputy director with Newton County Emergency Management Agency.

"The EPD still recommends that if anyone can, to haul off material or chip it in some way rather than burn it," said Fire Chief Mike Satterfield. "But this may help assist our citizens who have storm debris in their yard and this would give them the ability to clean that up."

Apart from vegetation, other storm debris, such as housing materials, is solid waste and may not be burned. Those wanting to burn vegetative debris as the result of storm damage must obtain a permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission by calling 877-OK2-BURN or visiting www.gatrees.org/OnlinePermits. Machine generated piles require a phone call to the local GFC office, which can be reached at 770-784-2480.

The following is a list of additional regulations:

* Burning should be conducted between 10 a.m. and one hour before dark when possible.

* Someone should be present with the fire at all times.

* Piles must be at least 50 feet or more away from the nearest structure, with a water source available to extinguish in case of emergency.

* Piles should be no more than 6 feet in diameter. Burn only one pile at a time.

* If a fire gets out of hand, call 911 immediately.