(WHNT) — The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) announced changes to parts of the ‘No Burn’ order on Friday, November 17. After nine days of a statewide ‘No Burn’ order AFC will lift the order in 33 counties in the southern part of the state.
State Forester Rick Oates says that recent rainfall in the southern half of the state should temporarily help with the wildfire situation in that part of the state. Therefore, the ‘No Burn’ order will be dropped to a Fire Alert for the southern part of the state at 5 PM on Friday, November 17.
Under a Fire Alert, burn permits will be issued to certified prescribed burn managers only. The northern half of the state will remain under the ‘No Burn’ order that was put in place by Governor Ivey on November 9.
“Unfortunately, the northern counties did not receive enough precipitation to lift the No Burn order. Predicted rain for early next week may allow the situation to be re-assessed,” stated Oates. This means that outdoor burning of any kind will continue to be banned across the northern half of the state.
In an interview with News 19 on Friday, Work Unit Manager with the Alabama Forestry Commission, Robert Maddox, said “until we get a major break or a good few days of soaking rain, we’re in firefighter mode.”
Maddox said the ground in the Tennessee Valley is dry 7.4 inches deep. He said it is going to take a lot of rain to make a recovery.
“Two and a half inches [of rain] just to get back to normal,” he said. “For us to relax and actually have an easy winter, I’d hope for another 5 inches [of rain], maybe.”
Since the beginning of October, the AFC wildland firefighters and volunteer fire departments have battled 727 wildfires across the state. These fires have burned more than 7,770 acres of land across the state.
Local crews in Huntsville say they have also been busy.
“In the past week, we’ve been called out to 35 illegal burns,” Huntsville Fire Marshal Dan Wilkerson told News 19.
He said thankfully there haven’t been too many “significant fires” that they’ve had to respond to. He said that primarily, Huntsville Fire & Rescue has been “getting notified of people that are burning and then we’re responding and issuing citations.”