Extreme Wildfire Warnings

Forestry commissioners in Thomasville say this may be one of their driest months of March on record, and with the drought-like weather comes "extreme" wildfire warnings.

The number one thing people can do is to stop controlled burning, at least until we get some rain. Rangers say at this time they've even stopped issuing permits to burn unless someone has years of experience.

Forest rangers fear another drought season is just around the corner.

"The fire danger is extreme today. It's been like this for the past three weeks and it's been increasing every week."

Rangers say it's shaping up to be the driest March they have on record.

Forrest Sumner Chief Forest Ranger in Thomas County, says, "We had fires with such erratic behavior that they were hard to suppress and we had breakouts. Fires were breaking out because humidity stayed low for so long."

Forest rangers say the only reason they're still allowing burning is to get as much done as possible before the green ground cover comes up. They say brown causes a lot less smoke and is less of a liability to drivers on the road.

Experienced burners say they have tractors on-site to keep flames under control, and despite the risk, controlled burning is necessary.

"If you keep letting the pine straw build up year after year, you'll get a natural fire that will make it real hot and burn up your trees if it gets too hot," says Keith Allen, Land Manager for Sedgewick Land Company.

Rangers say all they can do is keep a watchful eye on controlled fires and hope the rain comes soon. WCTV’s meteorologist, Mike McCall, says they could be waiting a while. He says there's a slight chance of rain Monday night, but even if we get any things will dry up Tuesday and could stay that way all week.

There have been injuries and even a death in Georgia because of yard fires over the last few weeks. A Grady County resident was killed last week after being severely burned during a "yard-cleaning" fire, and a Jones County resident remains in critical condition following a similar incident.


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