27 acres destroyed by brush fire

Published 10:05 pm Monday, February 20, 2006

By By Adam Prestridge
Twenty firefighters from area fire departments battled a huge brush fire Wednesday afternoon that put many homeowners' property in danger.
The Atmore Fire &Rescue Department received a call around noon to respond to an out-of-control brush pile fire that once under control claimed 27 acres between Green Acres Road and Brazzell Hill Road.
"It's not what we call a large fire, but there were 11 structures saved that were in the line of the fire," Gary Cole, regional forester with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said.
Firefighters with the Atmore Fire &Rescue Department, Poarch Volunteer Fire Department and Walnut Hill Volunteer Fire Department battled the fire that continuously reignited with every gust of wind, which was also the main factor in the fire spreading so quickly.
"The wind was high that day, too high to be burning," Atmore Fire &Rescue's Capt. Mike Staples said. "We want to caution people to call either the Atmore Fire Department or the Brewton Forestry to get to a permit and a check on the wind before burning. If the wind is too high, a permit will not be issued. We're fixing to get into March and the wind is going to get stronger and we really don't need to be burning in high winds."
The fire threatened several homes and other property including trucks, boats, tractors, trailers and utility buildings along Green Acres Road. Cole said the only way to stop the wild fire was to plow a firebreak.
"Most times when there's a pretty bad fire and even though this was small, it was pretty bad, it takes a fire plow to actually stop it from advancing," Cole said. "That was our job. The fire departments did a good job in keeping it off houses and residences, so it was a joint project."
In order to plow the firebreak, the forestry commission sent a bulldozer unit as well as a ground unit to evaluate the fire path prior to the bulldozer unit's arrival.
"Actually we had two other fires going when this one was reported, so we had to come off of a fire near Appleton to come to the fire to be able to get there," Coles said. "So I sent a unit from Monroe County down to scout out the fire and get us a report on the radio, so our folks in transit would know what to do when they go there."
Atmore Fire &Rescue had an engine and a brush truck on the scene as well as a support truck, Poarch sent a tanker unit and two brush trucks and Walnut Hill used its brush to assist in fighting the fire.
Cole said his investigator reported that the cause of the fire was as an "escaped burn," which is started as a result of a small brush pile getting out of control set by an individual.
If you're going to burn in Atmore city limits you must call the Atmore Fire Department and if it's out of the city limits you must call the forestry to get a permit," Staples said. "Residents need to make sure we're not under a no burn inside the city limits. If not we inform them of the requirements."
Staples said the requirements indicate that fires shouldn't be set within 100 foot of a wooden structure including houses, sheds and fences and that someone must be watching the fire with a water hose.
"If we get any complaints from neighbors complaining about smoke because some people have health issues, we will come out there and ask you to put it out," Staples said.
Cole said fines will be assessed.

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