Unusually dry weather for this time of year is one problem. The county is heading into drought conditions due to a lack of rain in March, and low relative humidity over the next few days only increases the likelihood of a dangerous fire breaking out. Cox said that any time the humidity is less than 30 percent conditions are dangerous, and whenever humidity is less than 20 percent, anything can start a fire, such as a piece of metal striking a rock.
"These things can move very rapidly now," Cox said. "A lot of people say, 'Ain't nothing but a wood fire, ain't no big deal,' but we've seen some in the last 10 years that will match what they have out West."
He continued, saying Wednesday's fire on Cass Pine Log Road was a controlled burn that the owner thought was extinguished. However, winds rekindled it and, before the owner realized what had happened, the fire was out of control. Three fire stations responded and the blaze jumped the firebreak twice.
Unfortunately, dry weather is just the beginning of the problems facing responders. Tornado damage from last year is still lying on the ground, creating additional fuel for any forest fire, pine tree plantations throughout the county are also highly vulnerable to fire and even Bartow's topography is becoming a factor.
The many hills and valleys in the county are an ideal place for a blaze to "crown," which means the fire will burn along the tops of trees in any direction for several hundred yards. Then it drops back down to the ground and can flash back in the direction it came. It is a deadly situation for anyone involved.
"If you're trapped between point A and point B, you're dead," Cox said. "There's no surviving that."
The Georgia Forestry Commission is still handing out some permits, with the burn ban taking effect May 1. However, permits for pile burning, forestry burning and large scale burning are unavailable. Only hand-piled burning is allowed at the moment, and Georgia Forestry is discouraging people from doing even that. They are asking people to hold off until there is some amount of measurable rain that will relieve the drought.
"If anybody has any questions, please call the BCFD headquarters station at 770-387-5151," Cox said, "or the Georgia Forestry Commission at 770-387-6750, or visit the Forestry website."
-- Jessica Loeding contributed to this report.