ODENVILLE, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Forestry Commission crews worked through the night Wednesday to establish containment lines around a wildfire in Odenville. That fire jumped containment lines again this evening.
The wildfire started Monday in the area of Backbone Mountain and burned 62 acres before it first jumped containment lines Wednesday. The fire grew to 375 acres according to Coleen Vansant with the Alabama Forestry Commission. Crews had the fire contained Thursday, but while checking the fire breaks with a drone Thursday afternoon, they discovered smoke in area outside their containment lines.
Thursday night, a seven man crew continued working to cut new fire breaks with bulldozers on the South side of the fire.
Smoke from he the fire did cause problems for drivers on Highway 174 between Odenville and Pell City and on Highway 411. One driver said he was on his way to work Thursday morning when he came up on what he thought was fog.
“Suddenly I smelled the smoke and remembered that we had that forest fire going and it was so bad it was obscuring the road. I had to slow down considerably just to make it in,” said Bob Burchett.
Forester Jason Docker says you should always be cautious when traveling through an area near a wildfire, but problems with smoke on the road are most prevalent in the mornings and evenings. The smoke tends to rise higher in the atmosphere during the middle of the day.
Docker said forestry crews are short on manpower and short on sleep because of all the wildfires they’ve had to deal with during the drought, but the terrain in Odenville presents its own unique challenges for the firefighters.
“This is a rough one,” said Docker. “Look around and it’s very steep, very rocky. It’s hard to get around in with a bulldozer much less a truck and that just takes more time to get around the fire. Fire burns more intensely uphill as well so you’ve got to deal with that.”
He said forestry firefighters have been working 18 to 24 hour shifts and they get moved around all over the state depending on where they’re most needed.