Last weekend for outdoor burning

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The burn ban that starts May 1 is meant to improve the air quality by eliminating smoke, which exacerbates the metro Atlanta area’s smog situation, according to Terry Quigley, chief ranger of the Georgia Forestry Commission office in Coweta.

By ELIZABETH RICHARDSON erichardson@newnan.com This is the last weekend for Coweta County residents to obtain burn permits to dispose of tree trash before the summer burn ban goes into effect May 1. The summer burn ban coincides with the smog season in metro Atlanta, which runs from May through September. The burn ban is meant to improve the air quality by eliminating smoke, which exacerbates the smog situation, according to Terry Quigley, chief ranger of the Georgia Forestry Commission office on Corinth Road south of Newnan. Thirty-nine counties in Georgia participate in the burn ban as an ozone control measure.
During the ban, absolutely no fires are permitted, except for cooking and warming fires. "For Coweta, everything else is a no-no," said Quigley. The burn ban was instituted by the state Environment Protection Division in 1996 -- the year the Olympics came to Atlanta. A common misconception is that fires are banned during summer months because of an increased risk that a fire could get out of control. Quigley says that assumption is false, and in this area the fire danger is actually lessened as "everything greens up" and becomes less flammable. For those planning a burn before the ban goes into effect, Quigley reminds the public that fires are limited to limbs and leaves, and that burning of trash and building materials is prohibited. Residents must obtain a burn permit from the Forestry Commission before conducting a legal burn. Permits may be obtained by phone at 1-877-OK2BURN, or online at www.gatrees.org. If someone conducts a burn without a permit and the fire escapes the property, Forestry Commission personnel will be called to suppress the fire. The violator will receive a suppression invoice for the commission to recoup its cost. "One phone call can save a lot of money," said Quigley. Burning will be permissible again on Oct. 1.


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