Georgia’s current dry weather pattern and incoming La Nina conditions have the Georgia Forestry Commission preparing for a potentially severe wildfire season.
“Now is the time for Georgians to think safety,” said Alan Dozier, Chief of Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission. “The number one cause of wildfire is backyard burns that get out of control, so it’s critical to get a permit before striking that match.”
The Georgia Forestry Commission recently unveiled its faster, easier burn permitting system that automatically ensures safe weather conditions for outdoor burning. By logging onto GaTrees.org, 24 hours a day, users can enter registration and location data for burns of hand-piled, natural vegetation.
Residents who prefer to phone in their requests may still utilize 1-877-OK2-BURN (1-877-652-2876).
“The recent lack of rainfall and tropical storm activity in the Atlantic and Gulf do have us on alert,” said Dozier. “Budget reductions are being felt throughout the state and our reduced numbers of GFC Rangers need the public’s assistance now more than ever.”
According to Dr. David Stooksbury, state climatologist and professor of engineering at the University of Georgia, the La Nina climate pattern may add to precarious conditions.
“La Nina is one of three winter climate patterns we get here in Georgia,” he said. “It normally produces warm and dry conditions, which we can expect now through mid-April, which is the heart of fire season.”
When weather conditions allow a burn permit to be issued, Dozier said residents should always
clear a swath wide enough to control the fire around the burn site and have tools close by to handle an escaped fire, including a hose, rake and shovel. In addition, to protect homes and other structures from wildfire, debris should be cleared from buildings’ perimeters, roofs and gutters.
The Georgia Forestry Commission provides detailed information about safe burning practices, current weather and fire risk conditions, and Georgia’s forest resource at GaTrees.org.