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AFC upgrades fire danger advisory to fire alert

The Alabama Forest Commission on Wednesday upgraded its fire danger advisory to a fire alert for Alabama.

When weather conditions are such that there are an abnormal number of wildfires or several unusually large wildfires in an area, or when there is an issue with severe smoke causing air quality degradation, The State Forester may issue a Fire Alert for specified counties. This allows the Alabama Forestry Commission to restrict the issuing of burning permits. On most days, permits are issued to everyone who meets the requirements of the permit law. During a Fire Alert, only certified prescribed burn managers with adequate manpower and equipment may be issued a permit.

According to the U.S. drought monitor, in only two weeks, Covington County has gone from abnormally dry to a moderate drought.

Andalusia Fire Department chief Russell McGlamory advises citizens to listen to the alert.

“When the Alabama Forest Commission issues an alert, we stop issuing burn permits,” McGlamory said. “Everything is so dry right now that it could spread in an instant. The fuel on the ground could catch fire quickly and spread like crazy causing a lot of damage.”

Another issue other than no rain is the wind, McGlamory said.

“We have had some breezy days,” McGlamory said. “It is just not a good idea to burn right now. I would advise citizens to please be patient right now until the alert is over.”

Over the last week, AFC wildland firefighters have responded to 182 wildfires across Alabama, burning approximately 2,608 acres. These numbers include a 470-acre fire in Talladega County, one for 391 acres in DeKalb County, and several which were over 100 acres, but they do not reflect the numerous fires suppressed by volunteer fire departments (VFDs) across the state.

The fire alert will remain in effect until rescinded by the state forester, at which time conditions will have changed sufficiently to reduce the occurrence and frequency of wildfires.

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, contact your local AFC office or visit the agency website at www.forestry.alabama.gov/Pages/Fire/Totals.aspx.