Lack of rain means increased fire danger

By: Kate Tillotson Email
By: Kate Tillotson Email

March 28, 2007

There have been quite a few structure and brush fires lately. We've gone nearly two weeks now without any rain.

That's causing problems for outdoor burning.

13 days and not a drop of rain. That's a problem. Leaves and other debris are dried to a crisp, making our wooded areas dangerously flammable.

No rain combined with dry and windy conditions can spell disaster, says News 12 Meteorologist Adam Clark.

"Foliage that has fallen off the trees gets extremely dry, and anything can really spark it and spark up a little brush fire," he said.

To demonstrate just how quickly those fires can spread smoke, we called on the Forestry Commission in Harlem for a demonstration.

In less than two minutes, a small stack of dried leaves and sticks was covered in flame.

"These leaves can burn up very easily and become a very easily consumable fuel that can start a raging wildfire in an instant," said Eric Mosley.

With safety in mind, we asked Chief Steve Abbot to show us how to burn brush the right way.

First, hose down the perimeter, preferably a six by six area. Light your flame downwind, and watch closely, never leave its sight.

When it's done, drench it with water. Then, using your hose and your shovel, pat it down.

Finally, use the back of your hand to feel for any hot spots.

Eric Mosley specializes in fire education like this.

"I think the most important thing is to be ready for anything," he said. "Have your safety equipment, have your water on stand by, just in case."

Don't forget: it is the law that before you burn, you must first get a permit to do so.

You can reach the Columbia/Richmond County Forestry Commission office at (706) 556-3962.

You can also visit them online at

Remember, burning permits are only good on the days they're issued.

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