State, local burn bans lifted

Heavy rains that have fallen over the past several days have diminished the threat of wildfires, prompting Gov. Robert Bentley to lift the ban against outdoor burning that had been in effect statewide since mid-October.

The governor issued a “No Burn Order” in response to the worsening of drought conditions across the state.

Alabama Forestry Commission reports show that 3,660 wildfires have burned more than 49,000 acres in the state this year. The totals include 855 that burned 12,286 acres within the period between Nov. 6 and Dec. 5. Of those, 11 Escambia County fires affected 36 acres of farmland or woodland.

Atmore Fire Chief Ron Peebles, who implemented a citywide burn ban before the governor’s statewide order, announced this week that the restrictions on outdoor burning within the city limits had also been lifted.

City firefighters responded to dozens of illegal burns during the time the ban was in place. The most recent came Dec. 3, when embers from a burn barrel set afire a patch of grass at a home on Martin Luther King Drive. The fire spread, causing “moderate” damage to the home and destroying an outbuilding.

AFC officials cautioned that the state is still in a drought and, if conditions deteriorate again, a new burn ban could be implemented.

Forestry commission personnel advise anyone conducting any type of outdoor burning to follow safety precautions such as not leaving a fire unattended until it has been completely extinguished, having the necessary equipment and personnel on hand to control the fire, and having a hose or other water source on hand for small debris burns.