Fire hazard advisory lifted, southern Alabama still dry


Recent rains have allowed authorities to lift a broad fire danger advisory for southern Alabama in time for Memorial Day weekend.

The Alabama Forestry Commission said Thursday it had lifted the advisory it issued last week for 15 counties in southern Alabama, saying the rains had “brought much-needed relief to a situation potentially dangerous “.

Although the rains provided short-term relief, they did not compensate for the long-term drought, according to the United States Drought Monitor. A map released Thursday showed a strip of southern Alabama in “unusually dry” or “moderate drought” conditions. The southern halves of Mobile and Baldwin counties have been classified as “severe drought”.

A map from the US Drought Monitor shows dry conditions persisting in southern Alabama at the end of May 2020.

Dry conditions, gusty winds and low humidity contributed to a large forest fire that started on May 12 off Bellingrath Road in southern Mobile County. According to the Forestry Commission, his wildland firefighters fought him for seven days with the help of crews from Mobile and Baldwin. counties as well as additional staff from Butler, Covington, Hale, Marengo and Wilcox counties. The blaze burned approximately 1,200 acres before being brought under control on May 19.

Southwest Regional Forester Benji Elmore, who served as the incident commander on the blaze, said the blaze “will become one of my most memorable Top 10 in the 35 years that I fight against forest fires “.

“Flame heights were sometimes 80 to 100 feet, with a high rate of spread and spotting occurring a quarter of a mile before the flame front,” Elmore said. “Every day, the fire spread to our containment lines and blew them several times. It is quite remarkable that an incident as complex and dangerous as this one was, no one was injured and no house was lost.

“We are truly grateful to our partners,” said State Forester Rick Oates. “Without field assistance from many local volunteer fire departments (VFDs), as well as air support from the Alabama National Guard and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) , the result of this forest fire could have been much worse. We thank Governor Kay Ivey and EMA Director Brian Hastings for expediting our requests for Guard and ALEA helicopters. “

According to Thursday’s announcement, the Forestry Commission “urges anyone carrying out a burn outdoors to follow safety recommendations such as not leaving a fire unattended until it is out, disposing of the fire. Equipment and personnel needed to control the fire and have a garden hose or other water supply on hand for smaller debris burns.

According to information released by the Commission, any fire over a quarter of an acre or within 25 feet of a wooded area requires an AFC permit, which can be obtained by calling (800) 392-5679.

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