Adding to the problem is an estimated 204,590 acres of timber that was damaged in the tornadoes of 2011. Approximately 93-percent (12 million tons) of debris still remains on the ground. According to the Alabama Forestry Commission, the amount of timber on the ground can contribute to rapidly spreading fires and erratic fire behavior. Safety precautions when doing outdoor burning in these areas include: waiting until after measurable rainfall has been received in your area. Obtain a burn permit from the Alabama Forestry Commission by calling 1-800-242-2504. This should be done if you are burning any woodland, grassland, field, or wood debris greater than one-quarter acre or within 25 feet of flammable material. Other safety measures include: not burning on a windy day, clearing down to mineral soil around the area to be burned, and having enough tools, equipment, and manpower to safely control your fire. Once started, you should stay with the fire until it is completely out.
In the past few years, budget reductions have caused a decrease in the number of Alabama Forestry Commission firefighting personnel. This has contributed to manpower shortages across the state creating longer response times to wildfires. In addition, budget cuts have created a situation where the Commission cannot replace its aging fleet of firefighting equipment.
For more outdoor burning safety contact the Alabama Forestry Commission office in your county, or visit our website at www.forestry.alabama.gov/publications.aspx.