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Fire Prevention Team Canvassing North Georgia

November 10, 2016  |  Georgia Forestry Commission Fire Prevention Team
A special team from the Georgia Forestry Commission is reaching out to local residents, organizations and the media to share important information about fire prevention. As thousands of acres continue to burn across the region, GFC professionals are making personal connections to help keep people and property safe from wildfire.

"We can come to your special event, your meetings, clubs, festivals, wherever locals are gathering," said Mark Wiles, Team Leader. "We want you to know about strategies that can be used to prepare for possible evacuation and making your home more resistant to fire. These are real life tools that can help you get ready if you are in the path of a wildfire," Wiles said.

The ongoing drought has contributed to a huge jump in wildfires across Georgia, especially in the northern region and into bordering states. The GFC has responded to 1,937 wildfires in the state so far this fiscal year, a 200% increase over the five year average, with fires burning nearly 300% more acres.

"People should not be lighting any kind of fire outdoors right now," said Wiles. "One tiny spark from a campfire or a tossed cigarette, coupled with the wind, can quickly lead to a raging fire."

The fire prevention team is disseminating information from the Firewise USA program, which teaches communities how to construct neighborhoods that are resistant to wildfire. Techniques that can be applied now include clearing debris from a home's roof, gutters and decks; removing flammable items from under decks and from within 30 feet of any structure; pruning low hanging branches from trees and clearing dry grasses and plants from the landscape. More information about Firewise USA safety practices can be found at www.firewise.org.

The prevention team also provides instruction on the "Ready. Set. Go." program, which teaches families what to pack ahead of time for an emergency evacuation.

"We're here in Rome until Sunday, November 13," said Wiles, and we want to share as much information with as many people as possible. These wildfires are dangerous and we  want to help everyone stay safe." The team will relocate to Helen, GA from November 13-19.

To contact the fire prevention team, send an email to: northcoosafirepreventionteam@gmail.com.

For more information about fire safety and services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.