Statewide fire alert extended as Ala. drought, wildfires increase

Updated: Oct. 11, 2019 at 12:21 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Little rain has fallen across Alabama since the Alabama Forestry Commission instituted a fire alert back on Sept. 25.

Worsening drought conditions and a rise in wildfires means the AFC will extend the statewide fire alert until the State Forester determines conditions have improved.

“We’re expecting a cold front to come through this weekend. The wind can carry a fire and move a fire very quickly, and the lower humidity that follows the front will cause fires to ignite easier,” said Alabama State Forester Rick Oates.

Under a fire alert, permits for outdoor burning are restricted. Anyone caught burning a field, grassland, or woodland without a burn permit may be prosecuted.

Since the first of the month, AFC wildland firefighters have responded to 200 wildfires across the state including a 365-acre fire in Sumter County and a 122-acre blaze in Shelby County.

In September, the agency recorded 472 wildfires that scorched over 6,000 acres.

Last year’s September numbers were significantly lower.

“September of last year we had about 75 fires in that month," said Oates.

Oates advises people to not throw cigarette butts “or anything like that” out of the windows of their cars, because it “can really lead to a dangerous fire.”

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