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Fire concerns rise as drought returns to north Georgia

It's been more than 2 weeks since Atlanta's had any measurable rain.

ATLANTA — On the heels of Atlanta's driest month in three years, drought has returned across parts of North Georgia and with no rain for the next five to seven days, the risk of wildland fires is growing across the Peach State.

In the latest U.S. drought monitor released Thursday morning, 'moderate drought' has returned to eastern Georgia, including part of Oglethorpe County. About 2.5 percent of the state is in moderate drought, during which crops can become damaged from the lack of water and streams and water reservoirs begin to run low.

Atlanta and much of the eastern side of the metro are in 'abnormally dry conditions,' meaning that if rain isn't received soon, drought will likely develop. The short-term dryness may slow the planting of crops or pastures.

It's been more than two weeks since Atlanta last had measurable rain, 0.39" on Sept. 21st. September's rain total was more than 2 and a half inches below the monthly normal, clocking in at just 0.99".

Credit: WXIA

The quickly developing drought and end of Georgia's annual Burn Ban prompted the Georgia Forestry Commission to put out a special news release last week, urging the public to be cautious about outdoor burning.

11Alive Meteorologist Melissa Nord spoke to Frank Sorrells, chief of forest protection with the Georgia Forestry Commission, who wanted to share a strong message with the public.

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Sorrells stressed the importance of Georgians remaining vigilant this weekend. Some may be cleaning up yards and burning leaves, sticks, or lighting campfires or bonfires outside as the weather turns cooler. 

He asks the public not to forget the elevated fire risk.

"We anticipate wildland fires to increase with the current weather. So we're asking people to be responsible if they're doing any outdoor burning or any campfires," he said. "Be sure you remain with those fires any time they're burning."

In a 10-day stretch from Sept. 24th through Oct. 5th, the Georgia Forestry Commission battled about 200 wildland fires across the state. Their average response time was just 26 minutes.

"That quick response is thanks to the public immediately reporting fires so that we can get resources there quickly and control them," Sorrells said.

The Georgia Forestry Commission has representation in every county and crews pre-positioned throughout the state so that they can respond quickly as new fires develop. 

For more information about fire weather and fire safety, visit the Georgia Forestry Commission's website at GaTrees.org.



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