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Dawsonville woman injured burning leaves dies
I-Woman dies following yard fire Bergstrom mug
Bergstrom - photo by For the Dawson County News

Funeral services for a Dawsonville woman who died from injuries sustained when she was burning leaves in her yard last month will be held May 14 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in John's Creek.

Geraldine "Gerry" Bergstrom, 80, died April 26, nine days after she was rushed to Grady Memorial Hospital's Burn Unit with burns to nearly 40 percent of her body.

Chief Lanier Swafford, director of Dawson County Emergency Services, said Bergstrom, who had lived in Dawsonville the last 20 years, was burning leaves when she fell into the fire.

A trained chef, Bergstrom is survived by her husband James Bergstrom of Dawsonville, grandson Eric Glass and his wife Sarah of Valdosta and great granddaughter Paisley Glass.

Swafford advises having safety measures in place when burning.

Having the proper permit that the Georgia Forestry Commission issues, recognizing the proper preparation for the burn, having water hoses available...wearing proper clothing, all of those factor in to providing safety measures while burning," he said.

Being aware of weather conditions is also vital when burning, he added.

As of May 1, a statewide burn ban is in place across 54 counties in Georgia, including Dawson.

The open burning ban, which has been in place during the summer ozone season since 2005, prohibits citizens and businesses from burning yard and land-clearing debris from May 1 through Sept. 30.

The restriction is in addition to a ban on the burning of household garbage, which is enforced year-round throughout Georgia.

May through September is a time of year when people, particularly children, are more likely to be outdoors.

The outdoor activity also coincides with the increase in ground-level ozone and particle pollution.

This is especially true of ground-level ozone since hot, sunny days can intensify the creation of ozone, according to Karen Hays, chief of the Georgia EPD Air Protection Branch.

"We can't control the weather," she said. "But limiting open-burning during these hot summer months when ground-level ozone is so readily formed is one of the easiest ways to help Georgia's air quality continue to improve."

Some actions such as campfires and agricultural activities are exempt from the ban.