AFC lifts ‘No Burn’ for southern counties

Published 12:47 pm Saturday, November 18, 2023

As rainfall saturates the ground to varying degrees across the state, the Alabama Forestry Commission is lifting the No Burn order in 33 counties in the southern half of the state. Effective at 5 p.m. on Nov. 17, southern counties including Lowndes, Crenshaw, and Butler, will drop back to a Fire Alert, while those in the north portion of the state, remain under a No Burn order. 

In southern counties, burn permits will be issued to certified prescribed burn managers only. This new lesser restriction includes all counties south of and including Sumter, Greene, Hale, 

Perry, Dallas Autauga, Elmore, Macon, and Lee. The 34 counties remain under the No Burn order issued by Governor Ivey on November 9.

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State Forester Rick Oates said agency personnel have been assessing rain accumulation and fuel moisture content in all counties to re-evaluate the No Burn order. 

“The recent rainfall should temporarily help us with the wildfire situation in some counties and hopefully more rain is on the way,” stated Oates. “Unfortunately, the northern counties did not receive enough precipitation to lift the No Burn order. Predicted rain for early next week may allow the situation to be re-assessed.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service recently prohibited fires throughout Alabama’s national forests. The announcement followed Governor Kay Ivey’s statewide burn ban, known as the No Burn Order, issued Nov. 8 and is meant to prevent visitors to recreation sites, trails, hunter camps, or primitive forest areas throughout Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee national forests from using fire or fireworks due to extreme drought conditions.

According to USDA Acting Forest Supervisor Dagmar Thurmond, the agency has a long-standing partnership with the Alabama Forestry Commission, working together to fight wildfires.

“Wildfires do not stop at property boundaries,” Thurmond said.  “The Forest Service is committed to working with partners to reduce the risk of wildfires in Alabama communities. Communicating to the public a “no fire” alert on federal national forest lands is essential.”

Since Oct. 1, agency wildland firefighters, with the assistance of volunteer fire departments, have battled 727 wildfires consuming more than 7,770 acres across the state. Even with the No Burn order in place over the last nine days, 53 wildfires have burned approximately 200 acres of land in Alabama.

Ivey’s statewide No Burn Order prohibited all outdoor burning in Alabama and was effective as of 8 a.m. on Nov. 9. The order initially covered all Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) lands including Alabama’s State Parks, state public hunting lands and Forever Wild Land Trust tracts. Gas cook stoves are still be allowed in all Alabama State Park campgrounds and appropriate day use areas.

“We are taking this burn ban very seriously and encourage everyone who visits an Alabama State Park, public hunting area or Forever Wild tract to do so as well,” said Chris Blankenship, ADCNR commissioner. “Please follow the statewide No Burn Order and enjoy your outdoor recreation responsibly during these extremely dry conditions.”

With the opening of Alabama’s gun deer season set for Saturday, Nov. 18, officials are asking hunters to observe these fire prevention tips to prevent accidentally starting a wildfire:

  • Avoid parking in tall, dry grass;
  • When discharging a firearm, be mindful of sparks;
  • Do not discard cigarette butts near any potential fire source; 
  • Avoid dragging chains when hauling a trailer; and
  • If possible, carry a fire extinguisher in your vehicle.

For more information on the current wildfire situation in the state, visit Alabama Forestry Commission’s website at www.forestry.alabama.gov. or call (334) 240-9300.

For information about the ‘No Fires’ Alert, please contact all district offices before visiting or check the Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/alabama. Local offices can be reached by phone – Bankhead District (205) 489-5111, Conecuh District (334) 222-2555, Shoal Creek District (256) 463-2272; Talladega District (256) 362-2909; Oakmulgee District (205) 926-9765; and the Tuskegee District (334) 727-2652.