By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
While 11 Alabama counties remained under an executive order prohibiting outdoor burning this week, Atmore Fire Chief Ron Peebles announced Monday, November 28, that he has canceled the burn ban that has been in effect within Atmore’s city limits since late August.
“The burn ban inside the city limits is officially lifted,” Peebles said. “We’ve had enough good, soaking rains over the last week or two that things aren’t nearly as dry as they were.”
Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) data shows that since September 1, when dry conditions began to reach the drought stage, there have been 16 wildfires inside Escambia County. Those blazes have scorched 158.5 acres of woodland and grassland.
The largest was near Nokomis, where a blaze that began in late August was contained five times — and jumped containment five times — in September as it continued to incinerate woods and pastures for more than three weeks before it was finally brought under control.
“I’ve seen bigger ones, with more acreage, but this has been the hardest one to put out and keep out that I’ve ever seen,” Peebles said during the wildfire’s extended life.
AFC statistics show that 895 wildfires that raged across 8,776 acres statewide have been brought under complete control since September 1. Thirty-two others were still burning on November 27 but had been contained after sending another 807 acres up in smoke.
Conditions got so bad that Gov. Kay Ivey issued on November 9 a Drought Emergency Declaration (No-Burn Order) that outlawed outdoor burning across the state. Warnings were issued that violators could face jail time or financial penalties.
On November 22 all restrictions against outdoor burning were lifted in the state’s 33 southernmost counties, including Escambia, and in 23 of the 34 northernmost counties. Those 23 counties dropped back to a Fire Alert, and one-day burn permits are being issued, but only to certified prescribed-burn managers.
The recent rains fell unevenly across the state, and some counties did not get adequate precipitation to alleviate the drought situation.
The 11 counties which remain under the governor’s November 9 No Burn Order are Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Jefferson, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair and Talladega.