National headlines have been spotlighting the deadly wildfires in Maui, but Alabama officials are now urging caution when burning and have issued a fire danger advisory for Baldwin County and the …
National headlines have been spotlighting the deadly wildfires in Maui, but Alabama officials are now urging caution when burning and have issued a fire danger advisory for Baldwin County and the state's southwest region.
The Alabama Forestry Commission issued the advisory for Baldwin, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Dallas, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe and Wilcox counties effective immediately until "significant rainfall is received." Current drought conditions and persistent high temperatures have combined to create a "high probability of fuel ignition and an atmosphere favorable for wildfires," according to a news release from the AFC.
In coastal areas, sea breezes and nearby thunderstorms may produce "problematic changes in wind velocities that result in extreme fire behavior and heightened danger for first responders."
“Unrelenting heat and drought development have led to a steady increase in wildfire activity across south Alabama in the last few weeks,” AFC Southwest Regional Forester Benji Elmore said. “Both (the) number and size of wildfires have increased."
In the past 30 days, 112 wildfires have burned approximately 1,339 acres. More than half of that acreage occurred in Mobile County. According to Elishia Ballentine, communications and public relations manager for the AFC, two large wildfires have burned in Mobile County, one for 230 acres and one for 120 acres, and a 125-acre wildfire also burned in Baldwin County.
Although the state is not under any type of burn restriction, the AFC advises that people delay outdoor burning until conditions improve. While under the Fire Danger Advisory, all necessary safety precautions should be exercised when doing any type burning.
Law requires anyone to obtain a burn permit before burning any woodland, grassland, field or wood debris greater than one quarter acre or within 25 feet of flammable material. All necessary safety precautions should be exercised when doing any type of burning. Be sure to clear down to mineral soil around the area to be burned. Have enough tools, equipment, and manpower to safely control any fire. Once started, stay with the fire until it is completely out.
To obtain a burn permit or for more information, call the Alabama Forestry Commission at (800) 392-5679.
Additional restrictions issued for Gulf State Park, 4 others
With no significant precipitation in the weather forecast for the near future, the State Parks Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has announced additional fire precautions for five State Parks in the southern portion of the state. Visitors and overnight guests at Gulf, Meaher, Bladon Springs, Roland Cooper and Frank Jackson state parks are being asked to take extra precautions with campfires and barbecue grills during the current dry conditions.
“As park guests plan for the upcoming Labor Day holiday, we ask that they keep the recent hot and dry conditions in mind when it comes to campfires and grilling,” said Greg Lein, director of ADCNR’s State Parks Division. “Those conditions have increased the risk for wildfires at state parks in south Alabama. We encourage park visitors and overnight guests to be very cautious with campfires and grills during this period until we get some much-needed rain and the temperatures moderate.”
The additional fire precautions include:
Prescribed burn in Gulf State Park canceled
In response to the weather conditions, the AFC and Gulf State Park have decided to cancel a prescribed burn that was scheduled for late August.
"As conditions improve and become more conducive, we will continue to assess and develop our plans for a prescribed burn that aligns with safety guidelines and environmental sustainability. We understand the significance of this project and its benefits, and we are determined to proceed when conditions permit," said a letter jointly sent by Tasha Simon, Natural Resource Section chief for Alabama State Parks, and Joel Bartlett, public information officer for the Alabama Forestry Commission.