Local News

1/29/2013

Wildfire risk rises with lack of rain

By MICHAEL HALL The Brunswick News

With the last measurable rain in Glynn County only a tenth of an inch Jan. 3, tinder-dry conditions are increasing the risks of wildfires.

Several county fire trucks and help from the Georgia Forestry Commission were needed Sunday to contain a fire that burned a large portion of woods between Juliette Circle and Ga. 99, in west Glynn County.

"They had their hands full with it," Glynn County Fire Chief Al Thomas said.

The forestry commission was called in to clear fire breaks to prevent the blaze from spreading to residences in the nearby Touchstone neighborhood, Thomas said.

No structures were damaged and no one was injured by the fire, he said.

Although the cause of the fire is undetermined, Thomas says the run of dry weather has increased the danger of fires generally in Glynn County.

"Any time it is really dry, there are a lot of things people can do to be extra careful," he said.

Obtaining an outdoor burning permit from the forestry commission should be the first thing anybody does before burning yard waste or anything else, Thomas said.

Jason Gillis, district manager for the forestry commission's Satilla District that covers Glynn, Camden and Charlton counties, says seemingly simple yard fires cause more wildfires than anything else. "The majority of our wildfires come from debris burning," Gillis said.

Attending to a fire at all times, even if it seems like it is extinguished, is key to ensuring the blaze does not become more than what is expected.

"Just because there are no flames doesn't mean the fire won't start again," Gillis said.

Flames could reignite if the remnants of a fire are still dissipating heat, especially when the weather has been dry, Gillis said.

There are no burning bans currently in place, but a permit should always be acquired before burning any debris, especially since the dry weather is expected to continue, Gillis said.

Glynn County is experiencing abnormally dry conditions and can anticipate only mild relief in the near future, said Zaaron Allen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville .

There is a slight chance of rain today as a cold front moves into the area, but the chance is not likely to top 20 percent, Allen said. "We are talking maybe a little more than a sprinkle," he said.

There is a better chance of rain Wednesday night, when the cold front arrives. Allen says thunderstorms, with a slight chance of severe weather, could drop more rain then.

After the front passes, the dry weather will continue, Allen said.

Thomas and Gillis both want Glynn County residents to be mindful of the dry conditions and to be careful not to let permitted burning get out of hand.

Get a permit

To get a permit for outdoor burning from the Georgia Forestry Commission, call 877-652-2876.