CHIPLEY - As Hurricane Michael left 72 million tons of downed trees and millions of cubic yards of debris in its path, Washington County Board of County Commissioners adopted Friday a resolution to ban all open burning.

 

The county adopted the resolution "because of the lack of rain in the forecast and water on the ground," said County Manager Jeff Massey. The ban will remain in place until Florida Forestry Service resumes issuing burn permits.

The resolution, which became immediately effective at a WCBOCC special meeting held Friday, bans all open burning "of any field, lot, garden plot, debris, fence rows, and household trash until such time as the Florida Forestry Service approves

controlled burns in Washington County Florida," the resolution states.

Considering recent wildfires that have swept across thousands of acres in neighboring counties - particularly Bay, where one fire about 10 miles east of Panama City consumed 500 acres - Washington will join other impacted areas on the adoption of such a resolution. Wildfire season peaks in April and May.

According to officials, Washington County responded to more than 200 brush fires last year.

"There is so much fuel in the wood from the downed trees," Massey added. "People need to be very careful because things can get away from you really quickly, (because) when it comes down to it, it is a matter of protecting life and property."