HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As Alabama continues to not see any measurable rainfall, the statewide burn ban remains in place.
Local fire agencies say they are on high alert in case any wildfires or grassfires spark.
“Especially in these conditions, it’s always in the back of your mind of when are you going to get the call,” Russell Rawson with the Green Mountain Volunteer Fire Department (GMVFD) said.
Rawson is a volunteer firefighter & EMT as well as a life-long resident of the Green Mountain area of Huntsville.
He said the conditions we’re seeing right now are some of the driest he’s ever seen.
“We’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t had a big fire up here,” he said. “The recent rains have helped but we’re still running a heavy deficit. On the surface, it looks like we’re wet, but underneath it, we’re very dry.”
The Green Mountain Volunteer Fire Department is responsible for protecting more than 900 homes in about three square miles on the mountain, most of which are heavily wooded areas.
Rawson told News 19 that most of the calls that the department gets are medical calls or residential fires. However, he said they are prepared for wildfires.
GMVFD has two main vehicles and an ATV that can all handle steep terrain. “We can cover 99% of the mountain with wheeled equipment,” Rawson said.
The department also has several firefighters who have been certified by the Alabama Forestry Commission on how to fight wildfires. Rawson said wildfires require a different firefighting strategy than residential or structure fires.
“We’re fighting the fire uphill, the direction the fire wants to come from,” he said. “So we have to be a lot more careful in how we approach fire, and how we strategize around that fire.”
While Green Mountain has not had any wildfires this year, or many in recent years, fire crews encourage residents to be prepared just in case.
“We do have two evacuation routes from up here, we have North Green Mountain Road and South Green Mountain Road which affords us options,” he said. “I would just tell people be familiar with the ways out, there’s always more than one way out in your neighborhood up here.”
Until the burn ban is lifted, Rawson encourages people to follow the rules and to not burn anything.
In June, Huntsville Utilities issued a voluntary water curtailment notice to all Green Mountain residents. The notice cited “high water consumption”, “constrained infrastructure” and “continued residential growth” for the voluntary curtailment notice.
Huntsville Utilities says the work to correct water supply issues on Green Mountain will not be complete until the summer of 2025.
The Green Mountain Volunteer Fire Department told News 19 that running out of water while trying to fight a fire is a concern.
However, due to mutual aid agreements, if there were ever a scenario where the water supply on Green Mountain went out, GMVFD says they could call in another agency like Huntsville Fire & Rescue to bring in water tankers.
The Green Mountain Volunteer Fire Department also told News 19 that it is always looking for new volunteers. It hosts its monthly training sessions on the last Thursday of each month.