Those taking advantage of the final week prior to burn-ban restrictions must follow a number of guidelines and remember to call the Georgia Forestry Commission to request a burn permit.
"They've got about another week within the county that they can burn before May 1 when the air-quality burn ban rolls into effect," said Justin Ridley, GFC District Dispatcher. "They can only burn natural debris, such as limbs, leaves and brush -- anything manmade is prohibited. Somebody of legal age needs to be out there with it at all times, it's got to be completely extinguished before they go in for the night and it does have to be out one hour before sunset.
"The biggest thing is they just need to do is check with the local county office, check with us, get a permit from us before they can do any outdoor yard-debris burning."
Weather conditions, including low humidity and high winds like those seen Monday, raise fire-danger conditions and eliminate the ability of the GFC to issue burn permits.
Bartow County Fire Marshal Bryan Cox suggests those planning to burn take a good look at guidelines to see what is required. Trash, man-made materials and any milled lumber is excluded from burn permits. As burning activity increases, so does the importance of following proper procedures to reduce danger and smoke. Smoke pollution can irritate health issues in others and inhibit motorists. Regulations for fire size and location in relation to roads and structures help reduce the rate of such incidents.
"We normally do see a little more activity as far as folks trying to get done, especially this weekend. The weekend right before, everybody realizes it's the end trying to get in before the deadline," Cox said. "They have to make sure they follow all of the guidelines and there's a couple ways they can get it. They'll need to call 1-877-652-2876 or they can go online at www.gatrees.org -- that's got all the burn regulations on it. This is for hand-piled, yard-waste debris only.
"If it's a clearing site for construction, improvement to the property or land clearing other than for agricultural purposes they'll need to contact my offices at 770-387-5151."
The burn ban beginning May 1 lasts through September and covers 54 Georgia counties to control air quality. Warmer months bring higher concentrations of ground-level ozone produced from the burning of vegetation as well as vehicle emissions. Increased levels of these harmful pollutants occur at the same time outdoor activities peak. The state burn ban began with 13 metro Atlanta counties in 1996 and has included the current affected counties since 2005.
Recreational fires, such as campfires and cooking fires, are not included in the ban and do not require a burn permit. These fires must be no larger than 3 feet by 3 feet and are the only type of outdoor fire allowed within the city of Cartersville. Cox asks residents of other cities within Bartow call the nearest fire station for further details.
* Cartersville: Station 1; 770-387-5151
* Emerson: Station 6; 770-387-5177
* White: Station 5; 770-387-5164
* Adairsville: Station 10; 770-877-9021
* Kingston: Station 7; 770-336-5000
* Euharlee: Station 3; 770-387-5155
* Taylorsville: Station 11; 770-684-8060
Permits can be obtained by visiting www.gatrees.org/onlinepermits or by calling the GFC hotline at 1-877-652-2876 or the local office at 770-387-3750.