DROUGHT MEANS REAL FIRE DANGER
CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS— While the annual EPD burn ban is scheduled to end September 30, the current drought has necessitated Georgia Forestry Commission and local fire officials keep the ban in effect until conditions improve.
"We have seen an increasing number of grass and woodland fires burning out of control during the past 30 or more days" says Greg Brett, Chattahoochee Hills Fire Chief.
"The drought has created a lot of dry fuel. When a light breeze is blowing it quickly fans flames into a broader area. Even cooking grills can start a grass fire that turn into something bad."
Brett explained that high atmospheric pressure contributes to the problem. "Not only can high pressure prevent rain but it draws moisture out of the air and vegetation."
Fast moving fire in high fuel areas can have disastrous effects quickly involving large area including lawns, trees and buildings. A recent fire on Hall Road in south Fulton County extended to a large home and required the support of four fire departments and Georgia Forestry resources. According to Brett, such fires have other significant effects, too.
"When grass or wildland fires expand it takes a lot of personnel and equipment to resolve the situation. Oddly, outdoor fires typically take more time to control. More time can mean more personnel working in extreme conditions--and, it means resources are taken away from the local emergency equation."
Chattahoochee Hills Fire Department supplied a pumper/tanker and personnel on the recent Hall Road fire, even though the city relies on the tanker's large water capacity to support many areas in Chattahoochee Hills without fire hydrants. "We will always respond as possible with any of our south Fulton partners," explains Chief Brett, "but we have to divide our own resources and keep an ear open for problems that might develop right here--we never leave our home front unprotected."
Citizens and friends visiting Chattahoochee Hills are encouraged to remember several things...
- Everyone, not just fire departments, should be on high alert during drought.
- Put others above yourself--choosing to burn when you shouldn't might affect everyone around you in unforeseen, irreversible ways.
- No fire--even grills or campfires--should be left unattended. One small, unnoticed spark can produce a lot of fire very quickly.
- When burning is allowed by local and state officials, securing a permit is vital. One phone call will let you know burn options for the day AND record information if fire department response to your location is required (phone Station 51 at 770-463-8177 ... Chattahoochee Hills adopted a local burning ordinance in 2017).