Outdoor burn ban resumes May 1

CONYERS _ May 1 marks the beginning of the annual ban on outdoor burning in 54 counties in the northern half of Georgia. The burn ban is required by the state Environmental Protection Division to minimize high ozone levels.

“The summer ban on burning yard and land clearing debris will be in effect from May 1 - Sept. 30,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells. “That’s when the air is typically hot and stagnant and particulate matter may influence air quality in Georgia’s most populated areas.”

Sorrells said the long-range forecast shows a hot summer with near normal rainfall amounts is predicted. Health experts say elevated ozone and particulate matter can contribute to breathing issues, watery eyes and lung and heart disease.

Counties in which outdoor burning is prohibited during the ban period are: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Putnam, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Twiggs, Upson, Walker and Walton.

Residents in other parts of Georgia that are not included in the annual burn ban will continue to be required to secure a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission before conducting any outside burning. Permits can be requested online at GaTrees.org, or by calling the local office of the Georgia Forestry Commission. If conditions are safe for burning, permits will be automatically granted.

“Georgians can still enjoy their campfires and back yard barbecues this summer,” Sorrells said, “but vigilance is always needed any time fires are lit outdoors.”

The GFC reports that escaped flames are Georgia’s leading cause of wildfire. The GFC responds to and contains more than 30,000 acres of wildfire across the state annually. The agency recommends having fire suppression tools such as water and rakes on hand anytime an outdoor fire is lit, along with a phone to call 9-1-1 if necessary.

“Summers are made for fun, not wildfires,” said Sorrells. “Together we can make that happen.”

For more information about annual summer burn restrictions, burn permits and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.