Governor Ivey issues no burn order

Published 10:30 am Saturday, November 11, 2023

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Governor Kay Ivey issued a statewide ‘No Burn Order’ effective Nov. 9. The signed Drought emergency declaration prohibits all outdoor burnings in the state of Alabama while in effect.

The ban comes two weeks after a fire alert was issued on Oct. 24. Since then, Alabama firefighters have responded to 352 fires that have burned 3,199 acres across the state, according to the Alabama Forestry Commission. 

As of the night of Nov. 10, there are no active fires, however, there are 133 contained fires. Contained wildfires are fires that have fire lines, or borders of bare soil, but are not completely closed for fear of the fire re-igniting. 

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“Now we are having trouble with roots catching on fire, burning under the ground and popping back up two or three weeks later,” said Jimbo Robinson, forestry specialist within Chambers County.

A no-burn order means no outdoor burning of any kind. With the holiday weekend coming up this is especially important, as fireworks, camp and bonfires are common, which are included in the ban even if they are surrounded by stones or a dirt pit. 

The Alabama Forestry Commission says that barbecue or cookfires are allowed only if the fire is in a grill or masonry pit. Even then, during the drought emergency, water hoses should be on site and any burnable material should be at least ten feet away.

While Chambers has not seen wildfires this year, neighboring counties of Randolph and Clay have. Robinson said with the population increase they have had to decrease the amount of controlled burns they do. However, with less controlled burns, which get rid of hazardous ground debris like leaf litter, there is a greater risk of wildfires down the road. 

Robinson reiterated the order, saying it is vital to follow the ban, even in a county that is not currently experiencing a wildfire. This is especially true during the holiday weekend when camp and bonfires are common. 

“We’re not worried about when you are right [next to the fire]. We are worried about when you will leave. When you leave those ambers burning and that wind blows…it starts up again,” Robinson said, having just come from a similar apartment fire in Birmingham that started.

Robinson said in his 30 years in the forestry service he has seen an increase in wildfires. With this year being especially dry in the state, the number and size of the fires have also increased.  His department predicts a long fire season, and because of that a long no-burn order.