Dry conditions spur possibility of Ala. wildfires

Posted by: Eileen Jones - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Authorities are concerned that dry conditions in Alabama may bring dangerous wildfires to the area. One of the driest Septembers in memory isn't helping calm their fears.

Most wooded areas are like tender boxes, but there are some things you can do to help. Deadly flames result when someone flicks a burning cigarette out a car window or burns even a small amount of debris near a wooded area. Most forest fires in Alabama are caused by debris burns.

"A fire is not out until it's cold to the touch," explains Forestry Fire Operations Chief Balsie Butler. "So, as long as you see some embers glowing, you still have an active fire on your hands."

When you consider a typical house sits on less than an acre of land it's unusual to find acres and acres now being destroyed because the leaves and grass and trees are all extremely dry.

In the last seven days there have been 167 fires in Alabama consuming 2,275 acres of land.

"This time of year we normally don't have that many fires. We may have 50 to 60 fires. So, those numbers are clearly more than what should be this time of year," Butler admitted.

Citizens do not need a burn permit if the burn is on land that's less than a fourth of an acre and not near any flammable materials. But even then the Alabama Forestry Commission asks those people to take more precautions.

"We always advise all burners to call your local 9-1-1 center and advise them if you're going to be doing any type of burning," Butler said. "So, if they see smoke they don't necessarily send fire trucks. We only want them to be dispatched when there is an emergency."

In the last week there's been one wildfire in Montgomery, and it destroyed ten acres. Elsewhere in our area, Dallas County has suffered three fires and Lowndes County has seen six blazes.

Caution appears to be the word of the day. Be very careful, especially during these dry conditions.

The Alabama Forestry Commission says it's issued no warnings for citizens in the WSFA 12 News viewing area yet. The driest conditions are found in counties just south and north of Montgomery.

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