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Madison firefighters deal with ongoing drought

Madison Fire and Rescue Department has extinguished 22 grass fires since July. CONTRIBUTED
Madison Fire and Rescue Department has extinguished 22 grass fires since July. CONTRIBUTED
MADISON – Even after a long weekend of rain in Madison, the ‘no burn’ drought emergency by Alabama Forestry Commission remains in effect.
“After seeing the recent devastation in our sister state of Tennessee, we cannot afford to take any risks,” Gov. Robert Bentley stated in a release. “The bottom line is that Alabama is still in an extreme drought. Until the threat of catastrophic wildfires is considerably reduced, we do not want to be too hasty in making a decision.”
Madison Fire & Rescue Department has responded to 22 grass and outside fires since mid-July in the city, Acting Fire Chief Brandy Williams said.
“We did have a fire on Rainbow Mountain where we spent from midnight to approximately 6:30 a.m. extinguishing this fire,” Williams said. “We were also called back to this location the next day and spent another six to seven hours. The terrain and location was extremely difficult for us to navigate.”
In addition, one residential fire resulted from improperly discarding materials that had been burned.
Even during the drought, charcoal and gas grills are safe … when individuals properly use them, Williams said. “We tend to find problems when they are used on balconies of apartments or under awnings. The other problem with charcoal is improperly discarding the ashes before they have been cooled,” she said.
“The fire pits can be dangerous if they are not properly used or the materials burned are not properly discarded,” Williams said. “Anything can be a hazard if safety is not a top priority or if they are accidentally knocked over.”
The Drought Emergency ‘No Burn’ regulation prohibits all outdoor or open burning statewide. It’s illegal to set fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes, to build a campfire or bonfire or to burn trash or debris. The penalty can involve up to six months in jail and a fine of $500 maximum.
Year-to-date, a total of 3,644 wildfires have consumed almost 50,000 acres of land in Alabama, with 2,219 of those fires and 29,406 acres just since Oct. 1. On Nov. 28, 108 active wildfires burned more than 3,000 acres across the state, which set a one-day record.
For more information, visit forestry.alabama.gov.

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