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Forestry Commission issues fire danger warning

With the combination of extremely dry weather conditions and low humidity comes an atmosphere favorable for wildfires, and the Alabama Forestry Commission has thus issued a Fire Danger Warning for 46 Alabama counties effective immediately – including Franklin County.

According to fire officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission, the Fire Danger Warning was issued because of current drought conditions, continued lack of precipitation, high probability of fuel ignition and shortage of available manpower and resources. In the last seven days, 142 wildfires have occurred in north Alabama, burning approximately 1,500 acres of land.

Russellville Chief Joe Mansell said the warning is a plea to use caution and good sense during this dry period. “With no rain and the way the humidity is, any spark in the grass or woods right now is going to create a fire,” Mansell said. “It’s just not a good time to be doing any burning … It doesn’t appear we have any rain in the next few days’ forecast. Anything that needs to be burned can wait for a while until we get some rain.”

In the City of Russellville, a city ordinance governs burning, and Mansell said “if you have anything you’re wanting to try to burn, just call the street department, get it to the road and let the street department handle it.” Anyone who is planning to burn in the City of Russellville once conditions improve should call the Russellville Fire Department at 256-332-8761 for more information on regulations.

In Franklin County, Mansell encouraged citizens to call the fire department that represents their district before doing any burning. With this “very severe” situation, Mansell also warned it will take more than just a little rain to bring about safer conditions for burning.

Although the state is not under an actual burning restriction, the forestry commission is also urging everyone to delay outdoor burning until conditions improve, if at all possible. While under the fire danger warning, all necessary safety precautions should be exercised when doing any type burning. As always, call the Alabama Forestry Commission for a burn permit.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor (droughtmonitor.unl.edu), Franklin County falls in the “abnormally dry” to “moderate drought” range – conditions not as severe as northeast Alabama, much of which is classified in the “extreme drought” range currently, but nevertheless creating a situation that demands caution.

The mission of the Alabama Forestry Commission is to protect and sustain Alabama’s forest resources using professionally-applied stewardship principals and education, ensuring that the state’s forests contribute to abundant timber and wildlife, clean air and water and a healthy economy. For more information about the fire situation in this area or any other forestry-related issues, visit the AFC website at www.forestry.alabama.gov.

The Fire Danger Warning remains in place until appreciable rainfall is received.

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