DECATUR, AL (WHNT) – The lack of rainfall has led to severe drought conditions for all of North Alabama. The drought conditions we are experiencing, combined with occasional wind gusts over 15 mph have led to an enhanced fire risk for the area.
Terry Ezzell, Alabama Forestry Commission Northwest Regional Forester says this past weekend there were 52 active fires in Alabama, 18 of those here in North Alabama.
One of those fires in Lawrence County had rekindled, which Ezzell says occurs frequently during a drought. This is because the soil is dry nearly a foot deep along with plant roots.
“Dry roots and stuff can smolder underground and pop up on the other side of our line,” says Ezzell.
While there were 18 fires in North Alabama this weekend, as of Monday evening they are all contained. This means there is a fire lane around it and it is continuing to be monitored. During extremely dry conditions like this, the Forestry Commission doesn’t call a fire controlled until every smoldering ember is out.
It is important to monitor conditions daily and to help cover more ground, aircraft is used. In times when there is an uptick in fires, they will patrol two times a day. At times when not fighting fires or working on their equipment member of the Forestry Commission will drive around and patrol themselves.
Heading into the coming days, the rain chances look minimal for the region. Ezzell says that they are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.
“We may move resources as needed to areas of the state as they get drier and that’s what we’ll be looking for down the line,” says Ezzell.
A Fire Alert remains in effect for the area, which means to burn over a quarter acre of land you must have a permit. If you are caught burning over a quarter acre it is a misdemeanor.
To view a map of current wildfires you can visit the Alabama Forestry Commission’s website.