Fire danger message issued for Chilton County

Published 3:15 pm Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chilton County is one of many Alabama counties to have received a fire danger message from the Alabama Forestry Commission.

The AFC issued a critical fire danger message on Aug. 29 because of an increase in wildfires throughout the state in the last seven days.

Clanton Fire Chief David Driver said consistently dry weather is the culprit, and when the ground has been dry for so long, small fires can spread rampantly in minutes.

“I know people are cleaning up and trying to do this and that around the house,” Driver said. “We just strongly encourage people not to burn.”

Driver said the Fire Department recently answered a call for a man who started burning a pile of cardboard boxes and lost control of the blaze. The conflagration covered about three acres of land before firefighters were able to extinguish it.

A city ordinance mandates that any person living within the city limits of Clanton must have a burn permit to burn on his or her property.

Outdoor burning without a burn permit is illegal, and violators of the ordinance may be ticketed.

“We took it on ourselves about two weeks ago to quit issuing burn permits…and basically do an unofficial no-burn alert,” Driver said. “I was expecting the state to do something.”

Driver did not have to wait long. The AFC sent its press release out Monday as a warning and update about wildfires in the state.

According to the press release, it is an Alabama state law to obtain a burn permit before burning any woodland, grassland, field or wood debris greater than a quarter of an acre or within 25 feet of flammable material.

AFC officials have estimated the state has had 100 wildfires in the last week that have burned more than 1,778 acres. Five of the fires spanned more than 100 acres.

“We encourage people not to do any outdoor burning until we get a substantial amount of rain,” Driver said. “It’s been so dry.”

Driver said the entire state was under a warning about wildfires a couple months ago, and he is unsure how long the current warning will last.

The most important thing people can do now, Driver said, is “to hold off on their burning.”

“We are trying to prevent anything from accidentally starting,” Driver said.

For more information on wildfires and current conditions in Alabama, visit the AFC website at