The statewide ban on outdoor burning ended last week and Columbia County residents are taking advantage of burning.
The five-month ban was lifted on Oct. 1 and since then, the Georgia Forestry Commission issued 844 burn permits in Columbia County, according to a representative of the unit overseeing Columbia and Richmond County forestry units.
A surge of residents burning is typical for the first weeks after the ban is lifted, Georgia Forestry Ranger Larry Felix, who oversees the two-county unit, has said.
The permit allows residents to burn hand-piled vegetation and lawn debris including limbs, leaves and pine straw. Burning man-made materials – tires, shingles and plastics – is not allowed.
Fires must be extinguished before sundown. Permits are available by calling (877) OK-2-BURN (652-2876) or by visiting www.gatrees.org.
If someone is caught burning without a permit, they could get a citation. If an unpermitted fire gets out of control, the homeowner could be liable for the fire suppression charges.
Anyone opting to burn lawn debris should have a water hose and shovel handy to control the fire. Felix recommended preparing the fire site by raking it clean of debris and wetting the ground around the fire.
Even though burning is allowed, residents should still consider mulching or composting debris or taking it to an inert landfill.