SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) – As Alabama battles drought conditions, the Alabama Forestry Commission has issued a statewide fire alert restricting any non-permit burning outside.
Right now, the U.S. drought monitor shows central Alabama dealing with abnormally dry or moderate drought conditions. The drought conditions, combined with a continued lack of precipitation and a high probability of fuel ignition, are reasons why the burning restrictions have been put in place.
“The main problem is when brush fire and wildfires are present, their ability to spread and affect a vast amount of area very quickly, and the ability of firefighters and emergency personnel to contain these fires is what is our concern,” Rocky Ridge District Chief John Lord said.
The possibility of a brush fire or wildfire is also a concern for state parks. However, Scottie Jackson of the Central District State Park Division said it is something they have dealt with before.
“We actually dealt with one here at Oak Mountain State Park in the summer of 2022; it was a fire right on the edge of the park,” Jackson said.
Jackson said building a fire outside of a fire pit, having a fire near flammable materials and leaving a fire unattended can easily cause a brush fire or wildfire in a park because of the dry conditions.
She said right now, visitors can start campfires in parks, but she said if drought conditions become worse, that may change. Jackson said weather conditions, wind conditions, and the timeframe since the last rainfall, or until the next one, all factor into when someone can light a campfire safely.
The fire alert will remain in place until the state forester believes the dry conditions have improved.