fire

Firefighters with the Alexander City Fire Department responded to a small grass fire on Campground Road which likely started with a cigarette thrown from the car. The fire was quickly put out with a hose from the ACFD brush truck.

The drought has caused the Alexander City Fire Department to ban burning and the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) has further restricted burning in the state.

“We will not issue burn permits until further notice,” ACFD Capt. Jeff Brewer said Wednesday. “We need rain.”

Brewer said the ban for Alexander City is in reference to open burning as it relates to burning of brush piles, burning off the yard and bonfires. Brewer said charcoal fires in grills are still OK but he advises taking lots of precautions.

“We are asking people to use extreme caution,” Brewer said. “If you light a charcoal grill, make sure the coals and ashes are completely out before you dispose of them.”

Brewer suggests keeping a fire extinguisher, garden hose or bucket full of water near the grill just in case.

Earlier this week the ACFD responded to a vehicle on fire. Firefighters arrived on the scene to find the fire already extinguished but said the cause was disturbing. The fire was in the bed of the truck and was started after the driver disposed of a cigarette through the window. It landed in the rear of the truck igniting debris.

Brewer said he has seen it before in his career.

“I remember a truck fire,” Brewer said. “A guy lost the truck and his belongings in the back. He was flicking cigarettes out the back. They were landing in the middle of his clothes in the back. By the time the fire department got there, the fire had burned his clothes and made entry into the cab of the truck.”

Wednesday the AFC upgraded the recent fire danger advisory to a statewide fire alert effective immediately. While under a fire alert, permits for outdoor burning are restricted and issued on an individual basis at the discretion of the state forester. Anyone who burns a field, grassland or woodland without a burn permit may be subject to prosecution for committing a Class B misdemeanor.

This burning restriction has been issued because of the current drought situation, continued lack of precipitation and high probability of fuel ignition. With this extremely dry weather, conditions are such any fire can quickly spread out of control, not only resulting in damage to forests but also threatening lives and destroying property. 

Over the last week, AFC wildland firefighters have responded to 182 wildfires across Alabama, burning approximately 2,608 acres. These numbers include a 470-acre fire in Talladega County, one for 391 acres in DeKalb County and several of which were over 100 acres, but they do not reflect the numerous fires suppressed by volunteer fire departments (VFD) across the state. The local VFDs are great partners to the AFC in times of high fire occurrence, the AFC said in a release.

This fire alert will remain in effect until rescinded by the state forester, at which time conditions will have changed sufficiently to reduce the occurrence and frequency of wildfires. To report a wildfire, call the Alabama Forestry Commission at 800-392-5679. For more information on the current wildfire situation in the state or any other forestry-related issues visit the agency website at www.forestry.alabama.gov/Pages/Fire/Totals.aspx.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.