New wildfire season upon Alabama

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Happening right now somewhere in the state of Alabama isa wildfire. It's the norm this time of year. In fact, Alabama is in the peakseason for wildfires and firefighter Balsie Butler anticipates a busy fewweeks.

"Fire is a killer, but thankfully I've never been injured,"said Butler, a 9-year veteran firefighter with the Alabama Forestry Commission.

It is tough work, dirty and dangerous.

The forest floor throughout much of the state is ripe for fuel.

"What we have here is pine straw and dried leaves which isperfect for a fire," said John Goff, the commission's Asst. Director ofOperations.

Goff is predicting an average season, nothing like 2007 when statefirefighters saw more than 4,500 wildfires but anything is possible. Itwas the year of the drought.

There are two primary causes of wildfires in the state; peopleburning debris recklessly and arson. Goff says state law requires residents toget a 'burn' permit from the forestry commission if they plan to burn a-quarter-of-an-acre.

Although the peak season typically begins in early February andruns through April, it can happen anytime and it usually does.

"If we don't get any meaningful amount of rain we could haveissues whether it's August or December," Goff said.

The forestry commission is expecting an average season but notruling out another breakout year on the land just like it saw seven years agowhen all those wildfires charred more than 74,000 acres.

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