BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - You know right away, it must be serious.
“In the last seven days, we’ve had a little over 200 fires and almost 3,000 acres burned,” says Coleen Vansant, public information officer for the Alabama Forestry Commission.
We always have a Fall fire season, but it’s usually not until October.
“It’s kind of reminiscent of 2016 when we were in a drought and the fires were so bad. We’re not to that point by any means now. We have issued a wildfire danger advisory,” says Vansant.
That’s a warning for everyone to be cautious with any kind of outdoor burning. Vansant explains conditions must get to a certain point and there must be certain indicators before issuing a burn ban across the board, or a declaration of drought emergency.
“One is the amount of fires we’re having and do we have the personnel to handle that fire load. The next would be what are the causes of the fires? If we went under a no-burn, would it stop the fires that we’re having right now?” says Vansant.
A burn ban would prevent any burning done by construction crews, affecting people on the payroll, as well as the local economy. It would also prevent any outdoor activities like barbecuing. So the decision to make that call is taken seriously. Vansant says the high heat and low humidity is what makes pinecones, pine straw, and the land so flammable.
“It lowers the amount of heat it takes, that fuel in the woods or in a field to ignite. So when you have a lower ignition temperature, you have more firestarts,” says Vansant.
She says little things like a car with a flat tire running on the rims, creating sparks, could start a fire. Some safety tips: Homeowners need to clear out the leaves and straw from your gutters, and keep firewood at least 30 feet away from the house.