Field fire in Grant Mountain area threatens nearby farms

WOODVILLE, Ala. - A large field fire in the Grant Mountain area threatened nearby farms.

Fire crews from eight volunteer fire departments and volunteers worked Tuesday afternoon against the flames. An estimated more than 150 acres burned.

Andrew Gardner, a local farmer, sent in these pictures while volunteering to help crews who battled the flames. He said many farmers like him came out to help give moral support and even drinking water to those affected.

"We haven't had a measurable amount of rain at this farm in two months," said Chris Clay, whose land burned. "Don't burn anything right now, until we get some rain," he cautioned.

Clay said he wanted to give a big "thank you" to the crews who responded to help put out the flames.

So does Phillip Thompson. The fire crossed onto his property, but an Alabama Forestry Commission bulldozer created a fire line that spared more of it.

"The fire was too close for comfort," he explained. "Had the forestry dozer and the fire departments not showed up, I would have lost my winter's hay." He gestured to a line of trees where his storage area is. Tears came to his eyes, as he saw the crews clear and looked out over the charred land, thankful it wasn't worse. "It's awesome," he said. "The firefighters did what they're supposed to do... it's just like the calvary's coming, you know? I love 'em all."

The farmers are praying for rain, while keeping close watch on the fire lines to make sure embers don't ignite overnight.

AL Forestry Commission Work Unit Manager Lynn Washington said, "The conditions are somewhat overwhelming now. I've never seen it this dry. I've never seen fire conditions this intense." He said there's not much you can do to prevent fires when it's like this. "What you have to do at this stage is just be ready to react," he said.