Fire chief advises against burning.

The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) recently upgraded the fire danger advisory to a statewide fire alert.

Statewide fire alert issued

The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) has upgraded the recent fire danger advisory to a statewide fire alert and local fire departments are advising against burning until it rains because dry conditions can cause small fires to get out of hand.

According to the AFC, permits for outdoor burning are being restricted and issued on an individual basis at the discretion of the state forester. Anyone who burns a field, grassland or woodland without a burn permit may be subject to prosecution for committing a Class B misdemeanor.

Over the last 30 days, AFC records indicate there were three separate wildfires in Elmore County totaling 29 acres. 

According to Wetumpka Fire Department fire chief Greg Willis, the city has responded to more than a dozen ground fires.

“The most concerning thing to me is we do not see any relief (rain) in sight,” Willis said. “I want people to realize this (fire alert) is a temporary inconvenience. Just hold off burning until we get some rain.

“In most cases I see, if people waited to burn a pile of leaves when the conditions were better it would not get out of hand.”

Willis said a 10-acre fire requires numerous personnel, trucks and equipment to extinguish which reduces the ability of fire departments to work other calls like auto accidents and house fires.

“Just wait to burn,” he said. “It is the neighborly thing to do.”

The statewide burning restriction was issued because of the current drought situation, continued lack of precipitation and high probability of fuel ignition, according to a release from AFC. 

AFC stated firefighters responded to 182 wildfires across Alabama over the course of seven days in mid-September. These fires affected approximately 2,608 acres of land. 

Some of the major wildfires include a 470-acre fire in Talladega County, a 391-acre fire in DeKalb County and several more fires — each over 100 acres. 

According to statistics published by National Interagency Fire Center, during the past 10 years there was an average of 67,000 wildfires and an average of 7.0 million acres burned. 

To report a wildfire, call the Alabama Forestry Commission at 800-392-5679. For more information on the current wildfire situation in the state or any other forestry-related issues, contact the local AFC office or visit the agency’s website at www.forestry.alabama.gov.