State issues burn ban

Published 5:41 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gov. Robert Bentley signed an Emergency Drought Condition Declaration Tuesday, prohibiting outdoor burning in all 67 counties in Alabama.

The declaration comes on the threat of wild fires, three of which have sparked in Marengo County and burned 41 acres in the past 30 days.

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A press release from the Alabama Forestry Commission Tuesday stated that “extremely dry conditions have created an atmosphere where the probability of catastrophic wildfire activity is high.”

The latest information on the forestry commission’s Web site Tuesday noted there were 12 active wildfires in the state. The last 30 days along have seen 8,171 acres of land scorched by some 329 wildfires. Among the largest of those blazes was a fire that burned approximately 1,500 acres in Escambia County last week.

Since January, 1,808 wildfires have burned over 41,000 acres in Alabama, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission.

“The lack of rain and unseasonably high temperatures have left much of the state extremely dry, creating high risk potential for devastating wildfires,” said Governor Robert Bentley. “As Alabamians are recovering from the tornadoes that moved through the state in April, it is important that debris not be burned. We must take every precaution necessary to avoid the start of a wildfire.”

Billy Carlisle, a ranger for the Alabama Forestry Commission’s Marengo County office who has been with the department for more than 10 years, said current conditions are among the worst he has seen.

“This is the first actual ‘no burn’ that we have had in those 10 years,” Carlisle said. “The reason they are doing a no burn now instead of a fire alert is a lack of manpower and firefighters statewide.”

Under the indefinite ordinance, individuals are prohibited from outdoor burning in an effort curtail the possibility of igniting a blaze.

“You can barbecue still with a grill,” Carlisle pointed out. “No campfire. I would go so far as to say burning in a fire pit may be a violation also. I would caution folks to refrain from using any sort of fire outdoors period.”

Current record high temperatures in conjunction with the significant lack of rainfall have created conditions in which fires start and spread easily.

Officials have reportedly attributed the origin of the Escambia County fire to sparks projected from a truck that had been experiencing mechanical problems along a nearby road.

There have been 15 widefires in Marengo County this year.

Given that conditions are currently so conducive to the ignition and perpetuation of wildfires, Carlisle suggested it is important to do little things such as giving heed to the proper disposal of cigarettes.

Under the no burn ruling, t is illegal for a person to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes, to build a campfire or bonfire, or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass, or woods fire.

The fine for violating the No Burn Order is up to a $500 fine and up to six months in jail.

Information regarding wildfires and the protection of homes and communities near forestland is available on the Alabama Forestry Commission’s Web site at