Foresters work to control wildfires in Russell County

Foresters work to control wildfires in Russell County

RUSSELL COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - A drought emergency declaration signed by Alabama's Governor Robert Bentley Wednesday is in effect until further notice.

Gov. Bentley put a burn ban in place for 46 counties in the state. Lee, Macon and Russell counties are under a "no burn" order.

Even though the no burn order is in place, the Alabama Forestry Commission in Russell County has been called out to work 24 wildfires since Sept. 1.

Russell County Forester Matt McCollough has been working around the clock because of the drought emergency affecting Lee, Russell, and Macon counties.
"Whether it's burn barrels or control burns, the dry air and the low humidity mixed with no rainfall makes it easy for them to escape," said McCollough.

Because there are only three staff members for Russell County, they get help from 11 different volunteer fire departments to wherever they're called.

"We don't actually put the fire out, we just do what we call a suppression and we plow around the fire, do a dirt break and when all the fuel burns up to that dirt break the fire goes out," said McCollough.

The Forestry Commission asks people to follow the order until further notice. The biggest fire so far could be seen nine miles away from their office.

"The other day we had a 50 acre fire on Ridge Road where we had to bring both units out to contain the fire," said McCollough.

The Forestry Commission also wants to remind people in Russell County that a non-agricultural burn is not allowed from May until the end of October.

The goal of the Alabama Forestry Commission works to Protect, Sustain and Educate.

According to a release from Governor Bentley's office, in the last seven days more than 300 wildfires burned at least 4,000 acres in Alabama.

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