MACON, GA (AP) - State officials say the ongoing drought has made outdoor burning in Georgia more dangerous than previous years.

In the past three months, the Georgia Forestry Commission says firefighters have responded to - on average - about 41% more fires.

Federal officials say that drought conditions are worsening, affecting more than 11 million people and threatening crops across a five-state area from Louisiana to South Carolina.

Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells says residents should postpone open burning if conditions are not favorable.

Separately, the Environmental Protection Division has summer burning restrictions in place in 54 Georgia counties to protect air quality. The Telegraph reports that state officials will resume issuing burn permits in these counties once the restrictions are lifted on Oct. 1.

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