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Statewide fire alert reinstated

Special to Atmore News

A fire alert that was temporarily lifted for the state’s 35 southernmost counties has been reinstated across the state.
The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) initially issued the burn restriction on September 22 because of the current drought situation, continued lack of precipitation, and high probability of fuel ignition.
Drought conditions have continued through October, historically the state’s driest month, and weather predictions for the upcoming weekend include the arrival of two cold fronts, potentially bringing low relative humidity and gusty winds.
State forestry officials said the risk of wildfire is extremely high right now; just about every region of the state has been experiencing a steady increase in wildfire activity and permits for outdoor burning have not been issued since October 6. Those who ignore the fire threat face possible prosecution.
“Anyone burning a field, grassland, or woodland without a burn permit may be subject to prosecution for committing a Class B misdemeanor,” said AFC officials.
“The Fire Alert is not going away until we receive significant precipitation, meaning several inches of rainfall,” said State Forester Rick Oates. “Unfortunately, there is no rain in sight, so the restriction must remain in effect indefinitely.
“With this extremely dry weather, any fire can quickly spread out of control threatening lives and livelihood, not to mention destroying our forests.”
AFC Fire Analyst Ethan Barrett seconded that statement.
“Another thing to consider during drought conditions is that fires may persist or smolder for days in piles of debris,” he explained. “If anyone has burned in the past few days, they should closely monitor the burned area to prevent re-ignition of embers. In light fuels such as grass and leaves, there is potential for escape of fires. Large diameter fuels (limbs 3 feet or greater in size), may continue to burn for days, if not weeks.”
To report a wildfire, call 800-392-5679.
For more information on the current wildfire situation in the state or any other forestry-related issues, contact your local AFC office or visit the agency website at www. .forestry.alabama.gov/Pages/Fire/Totals.aspx.