Officials remind residents of affected counties, including Bartow, that even though the seasonal burn ban will end Oct. 1, a permit must be acquired before proceeding with outdoor burns.
“The first step is always to call and get a permit and they need to realize that if a permit is not issued, it’s for their own safety,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Public Relations Director Wendy Burnett. “Escaped debris burns are the No. 1 cause of wildfires in our state. There are only 54 counties in the state that are affected by the ban, so you could probably draw a safe correlation that the month of October is a pretty busy month for burning throughout the state and we do expect to be on high alert and be on the ready to respond to people’s calls if they do need to call.”
Bartow County Fire Department Battalion Chief Sandy Turner, however, hopes emergency response will not be necessary and urges anyone that burns to take all precautions.
“Right now it’s dry, we haven’t had any rain, so it’s a tender box. ... So just please be careful if you’re going to burn, because it is dry,” Turner said. “Just make sure you stay with the fire at all times and make sure you have a water hose available.”
In addition to constant attention and a water hose, the Georgia Forestry Commission also suggests keeping a shovel and cellphone at hand in case of an emergency.
Although the ban will be lifted, there are still regulations in effect. All outdoor burns must obtain a permit and piles may not exceed 6 feet by 6 feet in size. Permitted outdoor burns can only be made up of natural vegetation, including leaves and brush, but cannot include milled lumber, trash or building materials.
Permits must be obtained the same day and local conditions are taken into account prior to issuance. Turner advises against burning during specific weather events, including high wind, cloud cover and low humidity.
“If it’s windy, it will fan the fire and it will blow it away and cause the fire to spread. And low humidity is bad too. When there’s no moisture in the air, things burn quick,” Turner said. “If it’s real cloudy the smoke has a tendency to lay close to the ground. That can cause traffic problems and people that have medical conditions can be affected when smoke close to the ground enters their homes.”
To obtain a permit online from the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit www.gatrees.org. Residents of the city of Cartersville can call the Cartersville Fire Department at 770-387-5635. Residents in other cities within the county can reach the Bartow County fire station within their city by calling the Bartow County Fire Department at 770-387-5151. County residents can obtain a permit online or call the Georgia Forestry Commission at 1-877-652-2876.