TALLADEGA COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — With very little rain for almost a month now, the Alabama Forestry Commission Fire Alert remains in effect, restricting outdoor burning to prevent brush fires and wildfires from spreading.
When brush fires or wildfires happens, local volunteer fire departments gear up to put out those fires, but it can be stressful for those firefighters.
Volunteer firefighter James Self has had to respond to nearly 30 brush fires in the three years he has worked for Lay Lake Fire and Rescue. Self said it does everything it can to put the fires out.
“It means getting up from the dinner table with your family, and most of us have full-time jobs,” Self said. “It can be very stressful when you have to go out multiple times on the same fire.”
Many times, the volunteer fire department must call other fire and rescue crews for help.
“So whenever we have a brush fire in a remote location, we have to call additional resources from neighboring departments who have four-wheel drive or off-road trucks or from the forestry commission that brings a bulldozer out and has to cut a break,” said Lay Lake Fire and Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Yancy Brown. “And when we have to make that call, not only does it stress our resources out, it stretches our neighboring resources and then [the] state’s as well.”
Alabama Forestry Commission forester Jason Dockery said because drought conditions haven’t improved, the commission is not issuing any burn permits at this time. He said he is hoping for significant rainfall so conditions won’t get worse.
“The next step would be the state forester asking the governor to approve a no burn order,” Dockery said.
This drought emergency would restrict all outdoor burning statewide. First responders caution people who do burn outside while the fire alert is in effect.
“Maintain it, make sure it is out, have a water hose around it, keep an eye on it, and if we’re under a no burn, just don’t do it that way,” Lay Lake firefighter Donna Simmons said. “We don’t have to be called out.”
Right now, the current fire alert will remain in place until the state forester believes drought conditions have improved.