County under high risk for forest fires

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

When burning leaves and brush during the winter months, there is an increased amount of risk for fire.

This year, Butler County residents face an increased threat from wildfires due to Hurricane Ivan.

When the storm swept through the area, many trees in the forests were damaged and now,there is a large amount of combustible fuel cluttering the forest floor.

According to Alabama Forester Commission Specialist Paul Hudgins, the area is currently in the time frame where there is an increased threat of fire.

&uot;Our burning season normally runs from January to May each year,&uot; he said.

&uot;This year will likely be more severe due to the available brush on the ground. In order to help in the prevention, suppression, and mitigation of wildfire in these hard hit areas, the Alabama Forestry Commission has and will be taking steps to address the wildfire problem before it occurs.&uot;

On Monday, Hudgins was called out to battle a fire on property off Pettibone Road.

What began as a small fire on the property quickly moved with the wind’s help into the nearby tall grass.

Hudgins eventually was called to the scene and used a bulldozer to cut a fire trench around the perimeter.

He said if the wind had been blowing in a different direction, some homes would have likely been threatened.

Hudgins used the fire as an example of how quickly a fire can spread on the ground with the available dried brush left by Ivan.

He said when the call went out to the area’s volunteer fire department, only a few were able to respond.

&uot;That’s the danger you have because most of our volunteer fire service work during the day,&uot; he said.

&uot;You have an incident like this where only a couple can respond.&uot;

Huggins said the AFC is implementing a plan called &uot;Don’t Get Burned by Ivan&uot; that you’ll see more about in the coming weeks.

Some will be seen through posters while others will be door hangers left on residents’ doors.