Fire and Rescue responds to brutal fire in midst of burn ban

Published 4:16 pm Tuesday, November 22, 2016

By Powell Cobb

Managing Editor

What started as a man trying to burn trash on Sunday quickly turned into a full-fledged fire that burnt down a neighboring shed, an RV, a mobile home and a bus.

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Decatur County Fire & Rescue responded to the reported “brush fire” and was able to stop the flames from spreading to other surrounding properties.

Decatur County and much of the rest of Georgia is under a burn ban due to drought conditions that have lasted weeks and are expected to continue into the winter. Decatur County currently sits in a Moderate Drought area, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Counties in North Georgia are experiencing conditions in the Exceptional Drought Categories.

Despite the burn ban (and a fireworks ban as of Nov. 15), people in Decatur County are still lighting fires outdoors. The Forestry Service has responded to at least one day since the burn ban took effect according to Rodney Heard, chief ranger for Decatur and Seminole counties. He said they responded to six last weekend.

“It’s nothing that can’t wait,” Heard said. “It’s not important enough to risk the loss of somebody else’s property.”

The loss of somebody else’s property is exactly what happened Sunday. Heard said the person burning their trash in a barrel went inside and left the fire unsupervised. Before he knew it, the damage had already been done.

Fire & Rescue Chief Charlie McCann explained the county’s low humidity and gusty winds are a deadly combination. Many of the fires that have been responded to lately are a result of coals and embers that are still hot getting blown into dry brush and starting up again.

“There is too much of a threat there to think this is not going to happen,” McCann said. “Those ashes and coals are still hot, even though the fire is out for a couple days. If the wind gets into it and starts stirring it around, the hot ashes and embers that have been sitting there could blow right out.”

McCann referred to an instance in Attapulgus last week where a fire started despite the property owners not burning anything for weeks.

The Forestry Service is not issuing burn permits, and will write citations for anybody caught burning in Decatur and Seminole counties.

Call 911 if you spot a brush fire. For more information, take a look at the drought monitor at