On Saturday, a ban on outdoor burning begins in 54 Georgia counties, primarily in the northern half of the state.

Affected residents are asked to refrain from burning yard and land clearing debris during the hot summer months because smoke can negatively impact the state’s air quality by contributing to high ozone levels. These conditions have been linked to lung and heart disease in humans.

“The restrictions are required by the state Environmental Protection Division,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Protection Chief Frank Sorrells. “By limiting outdoor burning, fewer chemicals and particle pollutants are released into the air.”

The burn ban is in effect until Sept. 1 in Cobb and the following counties — Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Putnam, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Twiggs, Upson, Walker and Walton.

While campfires and barbecues are exempt the burn ban, the risk of wildfire in Georgia is always a concern. An increase in the number of wildfires has been recorded in March and April, with 860 wildfires burning almost 5,500 acres across the state. Escaped burning is the leading cause of wildfire in Georgia.

Residents in counties not included in the annual burn ban will continue to be required to secure a burn permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission before conducting any outside burning. Permits can be requested online at GaTrees.org or by calling the local office of the GFC.

“Georgia’s 25 million acres of forestland serve a giant air purifier,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Director Tim Lowrimore. “We can help them do their work by recognizing the burn ban and enjoying the many benefits Georgia’s trees and other natural resources give us in summer and all year long.”

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