Alabama Forestry attempt to cover more acres with less people - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Alabama Forestry attempt to cover more acres with less people

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

Weather conditions have helped firefighters in some parts of the state Thursday but, they're still fighting fires across a huge area.

Although the weather is in their favor, Terry Ezzell said the state has less people covering larger areas. He says 25 years ago the state had 500 plus people, now just about 230.

"I know our firefighters have been extremely busy operating on little sleep," Ezzell said.

More than 4,000 acres burned just in the last week in the state. Alabama Forestry Commission said the lack of manpower due to budget cuts is becoming more of a problem.

"When they are tied up on one fire, we have multiple fires stacking up so we are going from fire to fire having to cover more distance to travel to that fire so they just get larger and more difficult to contain," Ezzell explained.

Ezzell is the North Region Forester and he added they rely immensely on volunteer fire departments.

"They keep up us in bed late at night when they don't call us out because they have the capability to get to the fires when their small and get them watered down and get them out," Ezzell said.
When they can't control them they call the Alabama Forestry who said half of the fires in the last month have been intentionally set. "The largest majority of our fires has been either debris burning or woods arson," Ezzell explained.
Firefighters hope with the governors bare ground burn notice and the state under a drought emergency people will be more careful.

“A dry cold front is considered wildland fires nightmare,” Ezzell said.
As fire departments continue to maintain and watch the burns Alabama Forestry Commission will investigate fires that are suspicious. To put in perspective, at this same time last year for the month of October there was just 20 fires which burned 87 Acres.

This year, 455 Fires burned 5,732 acres.

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