Recent rains lift ban on fire, residents can burn again

Published 5:13 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2016

By John Simpson


The burn ban in Decatur County has been lifted following the string of rainstorms that passed through the area over the last two weeks.

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With the drought finally seeming to be over, at least for the meantime, the Georgia Forestry Commission in Decatur County will allow for burn permits to be given out after the weather pattern over the county clears up.

A few people were allowed to burn last week after the storms on Thursday and Friday, said Rodney Heard, the Chief Ranger for the Georgia Forestry Commission over Decatur and Seminole Counties.

As fires caused by the drought broke out across different regions of the state, the Decatur and Seminole County Forestry Commission had to allocate some of its resources to different areas, leaving the counties shorthanded. The lack of resources in the area weighed in to the decision to put the burn ban in place as fires broke out across the county.

The burn ban was issued to stop fires from starting and protect property. Although it is lifted, there is no guarantee the area is out of the drought permanently.

“We need an inch of rain a week to stay out (of a drought),” Heard said.

For the meantime everything is “good to go” according to Heard, however fines will still be assessed for those caught burning without the proper permit.

Decatur County Fire Chief Charlie McCann said that he has no problem with the burn ban being lifted after the recent rains. His department had become consistently busy due to brush fires and different structure fires in the county and McCann is glad to see conditions return to normal.

The drought brought more issues for the fire department than just brush fires. The frequency of structure fires in the country could potentially be linked to the drought as well.

“Everything was so dry and the humidity was so low that everything was a tinder box.” Said McCann.

His department can finally get some much needed relax after the rains.

“I know folks were wanting to do some yard cleaning.” McCann joked about the lifting of the burn ban.

Jokes aside, the recent rains were desperately needed. The rains on Monday night brought five to seven inches of rain depending on which part of the county was measured, per McCann.

The Decatur County Fire Department and the Georgia Forestry Commission are assumingly not the only departments happy to see the end of the drought. With rains soaking most of the drought-parched southeast, everyone can rejoice along with the departments.