Lawnmower fire

The Alexander City Fire Department responded to a lawnmower fire Wednesday afternoon. Firefighters kept the fire from spreading to the woods. Before the fire department arrived, a garden hose was used to try to control the fire.

A walk across the lawn reveals crackling brown grass is in desperate need of rain.

While the lawn and other plant life are waiting for refreshing showers, they also provide the perfect scenario for a fire to get out of control. Someone might mean to burn only a small pile of trash or grill some burgers, but a flame can quickly get out of hand under these conditions so area residents should take precautions.

“We are trying to get everyone to realize it is extremely dry,” Alexander City Fire Department Capt. Jeff Brewer said. “A fire can quickly get out of control under these conditions.”

While burning is still allowed at the moment, officials caution against it.

“We are not under a no-burn order yet,” Brewer said.

Even the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) has issued a fire danger advisory for the entire state until rain falls from the heavens.

“Current drought conditions and persistent high temperatures have combined to create a high probability of fuel ignition and an atmosphere favorable for wildfires,” the AFC said in a release. “In the last 30 days, AFC wildland firefighters have battled 192 wildfires burning approximately 2,221 acres of land across the state. This number includes three fires that were over 100 acres in Bullock, Choctaw, and Wilcox counties, as well as one that was approximately 500 acres in Mobile County.”

The AFC wants those looking to set controlled burns to think again for now and to contact it first at all times.

“Although the state is not under any type of burn restriction, the commission urges everyone to delay outdoor burning until conditions improve if possible,” the AFC said. “While under the fire danger advisory, all necessary safety precautions should be exercised when doing any type burning. As always, call the Alabama Forestry Commission for a burn permit.”

Brewer said the Alexander City Fire Department wants everyone to put off fires if possible and take precautions.

“We are asking people to use extreme caution,” Brewer said. “A cigarette tossed on the roadside can start a brush fire. 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, water hose or bucket full of water near the grill just in case.

Although the incident happened a different tim of year, Brewer recalled a house fire that started from ashes not completely extinguished and the lesson applies now.

“There was a metal bucket used to remove ashes from a fireplace,” Brewer said. “They placed it on the back porch next to wooden siding. Homeowners forgot about it and went to work. The ashes heated up the bucket heating up the siding; it almost burnt the house completely down.”

At the moment, Brewer suggests against all fires for now.

“If you can wait to burn, please wait,” Brewer said. “In these conditions a fire can quickly get out of control.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.