Baldwin County Forestry staff spread thin because of fires - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Baldwin County Forestry staff spread thin because of fires

BALDWIN COUNTY, AL (WALA) -

Baldwin County’s State Forestry division had to send personnel and equipment to help out with a wildfire in south Mobile County Tuesday. That’s not the only place they’re helping out.

Gov. Robert Bentley has required all forestry offices in the state to help out with wildfire threats in north Alabama. 

Extreme drought conditions have now spread from one end of Alabama to the other.  With no significant rain for more than six weeks, State Forestry officials warn that fire danger is now extremely high.

“Right now in the fall, it’s unseasonably busy, not only for Mobile – Baldwin County, but the entire state,” said Baldwin County Forester Rickey Fields.

Because of that, Bentley has required all Forestry offices to send personnel to other parts of the state.  The Baldwin County office has been sending two forestry crews on seven day shifts for more than a month, leaving their office short-staffed.

On Tuesday, Fields had to send more crews and equipment to help fight the Coden wildfire.  It’s put him a little on edge.

“Right now, anything more than a grill or a chimney, you shouldn’t be burning period until we get a considerable amount of rain,” Fields explained.

Officials are urging extreme caution because right now, it will only take a small spark to start a fire.  An example of that can be seen on Hwy. 225.  Fire officials said a chain being dragged behind a vehicle sparked a ditch on fire which quickly spread, melted a fence, caught the woods on fire and even threatened a home on the other side.  

Officials are counting on county residents to be safe and report those who aren’t.

“We urge you, if you see anybody that’s acting carelessly with fire right now, call your county 9-1-1 because you never know.  It can be your house that’s in danger,” explained Fields.

Whether intentional or not, Forestry officials said if someone’s carelessness causes a wildfire, they could be held liable, not only for damages, but also for the cost of equipment and personnel to put it out.     
 

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