A drought in Georgia has made outdoor burning more dangerous this year compared to prior years.
Over the last three months, firefighters have responded to 41% more fires than its previous five-year average, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission.
The main cause of wildfires is escaped debris, Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells said in a press release, adding that residents should postpone open burning if local conditions are unfavorable.
“There’s a five step fire danger system used nationally, and right now Georgia is in the four and five categories, indicating very high fire danger.”
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has set summer burning restrictions to reduce emissions from ground level ozone that may jeopardize air quality, according to a Georgia Forestry Commission Chief news release.
Nearly all Middle Georgia counties — Bibb, Monroe, Houston and Peach — were among the 54 counties under the summer restrictions.
Merwither and Troup counties near the Chattahoochee Valley were also placed under restrictions.
The Georgia Forestry Commission will resume issuing burn permits in these counties once the restrictions are lifted on Oct. 1, according to the release.
“We recognize the importance of and promote prescribed burning for the many wildfire prevention, forest management and agriculture benefits it provides... We’re asking everyone to be extremely vigilant when doing any open burning, including burning yard debris,” Sorrells said in the release.
The commission asks those who burn keep tools on hand such as water, a shovel and a cell phone.
For more information, go to GaTrees.org