Georgia’s northern counties and the city of Hinesville currently are under an open-burning ban, according to Hinesville Fire Marshal Capt. Ricky Perryman.
“Gov. (Nathan) Deal’s ruling mostly pertains to northern Georgia,” Perryman said. “Although Liberty County is not affected by the state’s summer burning ban, our chief (Lamar Cook) issued a burning ban (Monday) for Hinesville due to lack of rain and high fire danger. So right now, we have all burning permits on hold.”
Perryman said the bans restrict all burning of vegetative materials such as debris from storm damage or for controlling weeds, disease and pest prevention. The state’s ban began May 1 and continues until Sept. 30. The city’s ban is in effect until the dry conditions and sporadic high winds improve, he said.
Capt. Kristian M. Johanson, HFD training officer and public relations representative, said the ban does not affect recreational fires like charcoal grilling or oyster roasts but does restrict burning debris, with an exception for agricultural burning. Farmers may be issued permits for a pasture burn.
The ban in those counties surrounding Atlanta was initiated by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, said David Duke, Chief Ranger with the Georgia Forestry Commission for Liberty County. He said the 54 northern counties affected by the state ban are under a seasonal ban, generally imposed for the summer months, not only to prevent forest fires but to reduce particle pollution from burning that affects air quality.
He said his office decides whether to issue burning permits on a day-to-day basis and allows the humidity and wind determine if it’s safe to burn.
“We can stop issuing permits, but that’s not really a ban,” Duke said. “It is dry, very dry. (Monday), we didn’t issue any permits because the humidity was low and the wind was up. We are issuing permits today, but we might not tomorrow.”
Duke said the area hasn’t had any significant rain for a couple of weeks, and the weather forecast doesn’t call for rain for at least another week.
“We got some rain in February and March, which helped draught conditions a lot,” he said, noting that the area almost is as dry as it was last year when wildfires spread across South Georgia. “We’re getting to a point where we’re going to be as dry as we were last year. We’re on the fringes right now. We’ll keep issuing permits on a daily basis, but that might change.”
For more information about local burning bans or burning permits, call 884-3331 or 545-2247 or go to www.georgiaair.org/airpermit/html/planningsupport/openburning/BBRules.htm.