Rainfall only giving short relief to drought

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Although rainfall amounts varied across the counties of the state Monday night, the storm system is expected to give only short-term relief to the wildfires burning recently in Alabama. According to Interim State Forester Gary Cole of the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC), there was not enough rain Monday night to lift the statewide ‘No Burn’ Order. However, additional rain Tuesday night and today may allow the situation to be re-assessed later this week. “The precipitation we received should temporarily help us with the wildfire situation and hopefully more rain is on the way,” stated Cole. “This reprieve will allow firefighters some much-needed rest, as well as an opportunity to perform equipment repairs and maintenance.”

Meanwhile, Monday was a historic day in the number of active wildfires burning in Alabama for one day: 108 fires destroyed 2,742 acres across the state. Cole continued, “Most of us veteran firefighters here don’t remember that many fires in one day. Not only was the number of wildfires higher, but they were also larger in size.”

“I cannot thank the men and women with the Alabama Forestry Commission enough for their dedication, tireless efforts and countless hours spent battling fires across the state,” Gov. Robert Bentley said. “Because of their efforts, wildfires in Alabama have been prevented from doing extensive damage. Their commitment to protecting life, property and wildlife does not go unnoticed.”

Of yesterday’s wildfires, at least eight exceeded 100 acres in size, including a 400-acre fire in Marengo County, a 357-acre fire in Russell County, and one for 235 acres in Jefferson County. There were seven fires in Wilcox County alone, burning more than 700 acres. In the last 30 days, a total of 1,074 wildfires have consumed over 15,000 acres of land in Alabama. Since October 1, AFC wildland firefighters, with the assistance of volunteer fire departments, have battled 2,213 wildfires burning approximately 28,787 acres across the state.

The statewide Drought Emergency ‘No Burn’ Order remains in effect which was declared by Governor Robert Bentley on November 7. This regulation, prohibiting all outdoor or open burning, makes it illegal for any person to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes; build a campfire or bonfire; or burn trash or debris. If convicted, the penalty for violating the No Burn Order is up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.00. 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.