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Forestry commission issues fire alert for county

The Alabama Forestry Commission has issued a fire alert for Escambia County.

Gov. Robert Bentley’s office said in a press release Wednesday that a drought emergency declaration has been issued for 46 counties in north and central Alabama, and that a fire alert was issued for the 21 remaining counties in the southern part of the state.

According to the AFC, a fire alert is when weather conditions are such that there are an abnormal number of wildfires, or several large wildfires in an area, or when there is an issue with severe smoke causing air quality degradation. The alert allows the Alabama Forestry Commission to restrict the issuing of burning permits. On most days, permits are issued to everyone who meets the requirements of the permit law. During a Fire Alert, only Certified Prescribed Burn Managers with adequate manpower and equipment may be issued a permit.

A drought emergency declaration makes it unlawful for any person in the counties affected to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes, or to build a campfire or bonfire, or to burn trash or other material that may cause a forest, grass or woods fire, according to Section 9-13-141 of the Code of Alabama.

The regulations allow barbeque fires for cooking IF the fire is in a grill or masonry barbeque pit, including large barbeque pits used by civic organizations to prepare food. Anyone grilling or barbequing during the Drought Emergency should have water hoses on site to prevent any loose sparks from setting a wildfire, and a circle at least 10 feet wide around the grill should be cleared of any burnable material. Side fires to generate coals for a barbeque must also be within a grill or masonry pit. Gas grills are allowed.

For more information on the warnings and definitions, including penalties, visit www.forestry.alabama.gov/FireWarningDesc.aspx.

For the U.S. Drought Monitor, visit http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?AL