Alabama Forestry Commission extra busy battling wildfires during drought


SALEM, Ala- October is usually a dry month in our area, but for Alabama, things have become incredibly serious. The entire state is under a complete burn ban.  The Alabama Forestry Commission wants all Alabamians to realize how important it is to avoid purposefully setting fires.

The devastation left behind by wildfires can be seen right here in our area—in Russell and Lee Counties—testaments to the drought crisis facing the state of Alabama.

“We have eleven volunteer fire departments in Russell County that help us out tremendously. If it were not for them, we’d be gone all the time to wildfires,” says Matt McCollough, Russell County Forester with the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Sometimes, these fires are truly accidental. But other times, the fires are the result of people starting a fire that got out of control while burning trash.

“We have a lot of calls for wildfires due to debris burning, whether it’s trash or limbs,” says McCollough.

But conditions in Alabama have gotten so dire, Governor Robert Bentley has imposed a statewide burning ban.

Sadly, people in our viewing area have lost homes and property in the last month due to wildfires.

That’s why people found to have ignored Alabama’s burning ban could face severe penalties.

“You can be fined $200-$500 and spend up to six months in jail if we come out, call the sheriff’s department or law enforcement, to write you a ticket and take you to jail,” says McCollough.  “We have to take these measures because it’s so extreme right now. The drought is serious.”

The Alabama Forestry Commission stresses the manpower and equipment used to put out fires also takes a toll on taxpayers. People who violate bans and cause wildfires also face the possibility of repaying the state for the costs incurred of putting out the fire.

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