Campfires Temporarily Banned in Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest
Local law enforcement officials are joining the USDA Forest Service in asking members of the public to be vigilant about any outdoor fires, and request that residents avoid conducting outdoor burning when possible. No bans on fires are in place in Stephens County at the moment, but several counties in the region have placed temporary bans on outdoor burning.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, much of North Georgia is in various stages of drought, and recent light rains did little to reduce the risk of fires.
Earlier this week, the USDA Forest Service placed a temporary ban on campfires across the entire Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in response to high fire danger resulting from the dry conditions caused by the severe drought and unseasonably warm temperatures in Georgia.
The fire ban order is effective through December 16, and covers all three Ranger Districts on the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia.
The fire ban by the Forest Service is supported by several counties in North Georgia who already instituted local fire bans.
Officials say that most fires are human-caused and the fire bans are an effective tool to prevent wildfires on the Forest near residences located in the wildland-urban interface (WUI).
Mike Davis, fire management officer for the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, reiterated the importance of following Forest and county burn bans. During heightened wildfire season, residents should avoid burning and he recommends raking leaves and other yard debris out 30 feet from any buildings to minimize the risk of wildfire spreading to your home.
Davis said, “Leaves and other dead plant debris are easy fuel for wildfires. Even with a bit of rain or fog in the morning, our warm, breezy days dry those smaller fuels out quickly. It’s important that Forest visitors and residents of our neighboring communities take preventative actions now to reduce these hazardous fuels that can easily ignite with just one spark.”
On average, 87 percent of wildfires are caused by people. These fires happen when people burn debris, leave campfires unattended or even commit acts of arson. Fires also can be caused unintentionally by heat and sparks from vehicles and equipment.
The fire ban prohibits the use of a fire or campfire, including charcoal-based fires, or using fireworks. Commercially available fuel stoves are allowed.
More information about the ban order is available at: www.fs.usda.gov/conf.