At a Tuesday morning special meeting, Franklin County commisisoners unanmously approved extending a countywide burn ban throughout the county through Tuesday, March 15.
The move ratified an emergency decision County Commission Chairman Ricky Jones had made at 7:32 p.m. Saturday evening, after the National Weather Service showed Franklin County at high risk.
The ban was recommended by Pam Brownell, director of the county’s emergency management office.
“We had been telling people ‘Please don’t burn, please don’t burn,” she told commissioners Tuesday morning. “We got word that in Lanark there were open fires burning trash. If we had a fire in Lanark it would be really bad.”
She said she recommended enactment of the ban in order to put teeth in Sheriff A. J. Smith’s effort. “That way the sheriff had legal recourse to go and put the fire out,” Brownell said.
She said as much a for to six inches are forecast between Wednesday and Saturday, which could put a damper on the spread of the Bertha Swamp Road fire now consuming more than 14,000 acres of uninhabited land in northern Gulf County.
“Hopefully well get this rain and we won’t have to extend it,” Brownell said
Smith went live on Facebook Sunday afternoon to emphasize the importance of adhering to the ban. “Put them out and be done with it,” he advised.
Smith said sheriff’s deputies will be dispatched to the scene if anyone is lighting a fire of any type, and they could be subject to arrest.
In response to a question from Commissioner Noah Lockley, Brownell noted therte is an exception in the burn ban for “outdoor grills used in preparing food.
“If anybody is going to do large burns, like contractors, they will need a permit and have crews there to handle it,” she said.