Rain improves drought conditions, burn ban lifted


The statewide burn restrictions were lifted in Alabama on December 4.

The lift comes after some rain helped to improve the dangerous drought conditions across the state. This coming weekend will also help improve conditions as one to two inches of rain is expected to fall Friday through Sunday.

Eleven counties in northeast Alabama, including Etowah County, that had been under a “No Burn” order since it was issued by Governor Kay Ivey on November 9 are now under a “fuel advisory,” meaning extra safety precautions are required during burning because of the abnormally dry conditions. The other counties under a “fuel advisory” are Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Jefferson, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair and Talladega.

“Although we still have not received enough rain to eliminate drought conditions in all areas of the state, we are beginning to see a wetter pattern,” said State Forester Rick Oates. “With higher humidities and good recovery occurring at night from dew fall, surface fuels have moved out of critical fire danger thresholds and the chance of significant wildfire potential has decreased across the state.”

Despite the few inches of rain received in the latter half of November, drought conditions remain and after this weekend’s rain, the state will return to a dry pattern for at least 10 more days.

“Even with a return to wetter weather, drought conditions persist. Fires can still escape, especially during gusty conditions or periods of low relative humidity of 30 percent or less. These fires are prone to containment problems and can burn for days in the organic layer of the soil. If you are located in one of those 11 northeastern counties or a drought-declared area, you must exercise extreme caution when conducting any type of outdoor burning.”

Part of the caution Oates suggests includes raking or plowing around the pile you plan to burn, water the soil to full saturation to prevent the fire from escaping the firebreak, and as always, never leaving any fire unattended and remaining with your fire until it is completely out.

“Ensure that you have the necessary equipment and personnel to control the fire,” Oates said. “For smaller debris burns, have a garden hose or other water supply on hand.”

Any agricultural or silvicultural fire more than a quarter-acre in size requires a permit from the AFC. Burn permits may be obtained by calling 800-392-5679.

Burning without a permit is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or up to a $3,000 fine.

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