HUNTSVILLE — As Smokey the Bear says, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
Those words are updated from when ol’ Smokey, a fictional black bear created in 1944, first appeared in ads and later commercials with the admonition “Only you can prevent forest fires.” A statewide Fire Alert, which went into effect last month, remains in place.
The Alabama Forestry Commission issued the burn restriction Sept. 22 because of the drought situation, a continued lack of precipitation and a high probability of fuel
Since October is historically the state’s driest month, drought conditions are expected to
“The Fire Alert is not going away until we receive significant precipitation, meaning several
inches of rainfall,” State Forester Rick Oates said. “Unfortunately, there is no rain in sight, so the restriction must remain in effect indefinitely.
“With this extremely dry weather, any fire can quickly spread out of control threatening lives and livelihood, not to mention destroying our forests.”
The commission said weather predictions for the weekend include the arrival of two cold fronts, potentially bringing low relative humidity and gusty winds. The risk of wildfire is
extremely high right now, and just about every region of the state has been experiencing a
steady increase in wildfire activity.
Effective Friday, permits for outdoor burning will no longer be issued until further notice, the commission said. Anyone burning a field, grassland, or woodland without a burn permit may be subject to prosecution for committing a Class B misdemeanor.
“Another thing to consider during drought conditions is that fires may persist or smolder for days in piles of debris,” Fire Analyst Ethan Barrett said. “If anyone has burned in the past few days, they should closely monitor the burned area to prevent re-ignition of embers.
“In light fuels such as grass and leaves, there is potential for escape of fires. Large diameter fuels (limbs 3 feet or greater in size) may continue to burn for days, if not weeks.”
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, click here.
The Alabama Forestry Commission is the state agency committed to protecting Alabama’s forest assets as well as its citizens.