Cowetans might be in for a smokey weekend.
This weekend is the last before the summer burn ban kicks in May 1. Prescribed burning of land, as well as burning of storm debris and other brush for land cleanup purposes, isn’t allowed from May 1 to Sept. 30, for air quality reasons in the Atlanta metro-area.
The summer burn ban is in addition to year-round restrictions on burning of garbage. Burning of garbage is illegal throughout the state of Georgia, according to Kevin Chambers, spokesman for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
Recreational fires such as campfires and grilling are exempt from the ban, as is burning vegetative materials at agricultural operations.
During burning season, those wishing to do open burning must have a permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission. Permits to burn hand-piled natural vegetation or for prescribed burns are free and can be obtained online or over the phone. Getting a permit protects the permit holder in case a fire gets out of hand.
Some cities, including the city of Newnan, have tougher restrictions than the state. City residents should contact the Newnan Fire Marshal for more information.
The burn ban has been in place during the summer ozone season since 2005. Ground-level ozone is most commonly produced in summer heat and can cause lung inflammation and other health problems, according to Chambers. Open burning also creates particulate pollution that can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
“The summer open burning restrictions help us improve Georgia’s air quality during the hot summer months,” said Karen Hays, chief of the Georgia EPD Air Protection Branch.
For information about alternatives to burning, visit https://epd.georgia.gov/air/alternatives-burning
To get a permit to burn before May 1, call 877-OK2-BURN or visit http://www.gfc.state.ga.us/online-permits/index.cfm