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Record-breaking heat means higher risk for wild fires in GA

(WRDW)
Published: May. 28, 2019 at 3:49 PM EDT
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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

News 12 at 6 O’Clock/NBC at 7

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) – This record-breaking heat wave has brought us multiple fires – even one just this morning.

On Monday, multiple grass fires broke out on Interstate 20. The Georgia Fire Commission says the fire on I-20 was 100 acres. Winter fires usually only damage one acre.

“It's more dangerous fighting it out on the interstate like that than it is in somebody’s backyard because of number one of the traffic and it’s more of an open area and you've got more wind currents and stuff like that help fan the flames,” Danny Kuhlmann, operations chief for Columbia County Fire Rescue, said.

Alongside fire rescue, the Georgia Forestry Commission has helped contain these fires using bulldozers.

”We get out there and just build a big wall around the fire of dirt,” Carolyn Head, a wild land firefighter, said. “That way it has nowhere to go so we trap it.”

They say these fires along the interstate are caused by a number of things -- most of them involving people.

"Broken glass on the side of the road, somebody flicking a cigarette out the window, kids playing, campfires,” Kuhlmann said.

The hot weather and dry conditions are what keep them burning.

“As the temperatures rise and the humidity gets low, a grass fire or woods fire is going to burn very, very fast and move through the terrain very quickly,” Kuhlmann said.

And since the weather conditions aren't changing anytime soon, the only way to keep the fires from sparking is to be a little more aware.

“People don't think when they flick that cigarette out the window what it’s going to do,” Kuhlmann said. “If they could just think about it for a second, then we might be just a little bit better off.”

The Georgia Forestry Commission says normally they send a wild land firefighter with a bulldozer to fight these large fires, but yesterday called in backup. Their pilot came into tell them where the fire was going and they called in another wild land firefighter.

We’re also in a burn ban now, meaning from May to the end of September, you cannot burn anything you need a permit to burn. Only farmers can burn agriculture because that’s how they make a living.

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