Alabama Forestry Commission talks wildfires

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Forestry Commission is evaluating what they can do to help in the midst of more than a dozen wildfires that have spread across California with minimal containment.

As wildfires continue to burn out of control across California, those on the front lines are doing everything they can to put them out.

"Right now they are scrambling for resources. They are using a lot of aerial resources water d rops and retardant d rops," said Balsie Butler, fire operations chief with the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Butler says what they are dealing with out west is extremely dangerous.

"I mean it is a life or death situation," Butler said.

Right now Butler believes mother nature is posing the biggest challenge.

"Out on the west coast they have what is called Santa Ana winds. Those winds can create their own weather so to speak. When those winds are high and you have a combination of the dry fuel beds, that are out there, it makes it very difficult to combat those fires," Butler said.

Alabama is no stranger to wildfires. Back in 2016, during drought conditions, the state experienced a series of wildfires. Nearly 3,000 fires consumed almost 30,000 acres. The Alabama Forestry Commission is committed to doing what they can to help those battling wildfires. Earlier this year the AFC sent a team to Oklahoma, they currently have a team in Texas, and they are evaluating sending a team to California.

"We are looking into trying to maybe send personnel if possible and equipment, but a lot of it is Intel sharing. Just being able to analyze some of that weather data they have and share some of our experiences with those people out their to help them," Butler said.

Butler says the biggest difference between Alabama and California currently is we are getting rain on a consistent basis. In addition to that, Alabama has a robust Prescribed Fire Council that encourages landowners to do prescribed burning to reduce wooded debris. Prescribed burning is also an effective tool to reduce the risk of wildfire.

As for training here in our state, AFC firefighters go through basic and advanced wildlife firefighter training.

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