AFC: No burning until rain falls

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 4, 2011

Firefighters – including a crew from Covington County– continue to watch five wildfires that began Thursday afternoon between Atmore and Flomaton, and now, Alabama Forestry Commission officials are warning locals the conditions are favorable for more fires.

“It’s extremely hot – there are high temperatures and low humidity – add to that the drought conditions in the area, and you have the right recipe for a fire,” said Mike Kyser of the state forestry commission Friday. “It could be that you start out with a small fire, but the conditions are right for that fire to quickly get out of hand and become a wildfire.”

Which is exactly what happened in Escambia County, he said.

Escambia County EMA Director David Adams said evidence indicates that a blown tire on a work truck created four small fires that led to devastation cof an estimated 1,500 acres. Although timber was lost, no other property damage was reported.

Adams said 20 fire departments responded to the fire that engulfed an area that took more than eight hours to bring under control.

“Totals show that in the last seven days, there have been 14 acres burned in one fire in Covington County,” Kyser said. “In Escambia County, less that one acre was burned in that same time. Now, it’s 1,200 plus acres, and four fires all going at the same time. That should show just how fast things can get out of control, especially with the dry conditions the way they are.”

Kyser said if burning is “absolutely necessary” check with local and state officials before beginning.

“If you must burn debris, and it’s anything larger than a quarter of an acre, you have to get a burn permit,” he said. “If you are burning less than 25 feet from a forested area, you have to have a permit. Be sure to check with the forestry commission, as well as your local municipality to make sure there are no restrictions in place.

“But as far as burning and the weather conditions – if you can avoid burning, do it until sufficient rain fall occurs.”