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Risk of wildfires soars in Georgia amid southern drought

September 28, 2019

MACON, Ga. (AP) — The ongoing drought has made outdoor burning in Georgia more dangerous than previous years, state officials said.

In the past three months, the Georgia Forestry Commission says firefighters have responded to — on average — about 41% more fires.

Drought conditions are worsening, affecting more than 11 million people and threatening crops across a five-state area from Louisiana to South Carolina, federal officials said. Conditions are particularly bad in Alabama and Georgia, and areas around the suburbs of Birmingham and Atlanta are very dry.

In Georgia, residents should postpone open burning if conditions are not favorable, Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells said in a statement, The Telegraph reported .

“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,” Sorrells said.

The main cause of wildfires is debris that escapes from a fire, he said.

“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.

Separately, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has summer burning restrictions in place in 54 Georgia counties to protect air quality. State officials will resume issuing burn permits in these counties once the restrictions are lifted on Tuesday, The Telegraph reported.

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Information from: The Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com

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