MONTGOMERY – As extremely dry conditions continue to plague the entire state, a total of 46 counties in north and central Alabama remain under a burn ban. Governor Robert Bentley signed the Drought Emergency Declaration into effect on October 12, often referred to as a “No Burn Order,” which prohibits all outdoor burning.
“The drought creates a dangerous scenario where wildfire can quickly spread out of control, destroying forestland and threatening homes,” said interim State Forester Gary Cole. Over the last few weeks, wildland firefighters with the Alabama Forestry Commission have been busy battling such wildfires in all 67 counties of the state. The situation causes grave concern for fire officials with the agency, struggling with reduced availability of both firefighting manpower and suppression resources.
“Unfortunately there is no relief in sight,” Cole continued. “The 10-day forecast for Alabama shows almost no potential for rainfall, with above-average temperatures and lower humidity. All of these factors combined with seasonal leaf fall contribute to extremely dangerous conditions. It’s not a good outlook for our team of firefighters who are already putting in long, difficult hours in the woods trying to suppress these blazes. Since the first of October, a total of 910 wildfires have destroyed over 10,000 acres across the state. To put the seriousness of the situation in perspective, that’s almost half the number of fires for the entire 2016 calendar year.”
Under the No Burn Order, it is illegal for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands, or marshes; to build a campfire or bonfire; or to burn trash, debris, or other material that may cause a forest, grass, or woods fire. The regulation also prohibits all open burning and prescribed burns. If convicted, the penalty for violating the No Burn Order is a fine of up to $500 and/or up to six months in jail.
Additionally, a Fire Alert remains in effect for the 21 other counties in south Alabama which was issued earlier by the Alabama Forestry Commission. While under the Fire Alert, permits for outdoor burning are restricted and issued on an individual basis.
The Alabama Forestry Commission is committed to protecting the state’s invaluable forest assets, as well as serving the citizens and landowners across Alabama. The Drought Emergency Declaration order will remain in effect until rescinded by the State Forester, at which time conditions will have changed sufficiently to reduce the occurrence and frequency of wildfires. To report persons burning in violation of this law, contact your local law enforcement. For more information on the current wildfire situation in the state, visit Alabama Forestry Commission’s website at www.forestry.alabama.gov.