According to Hank McKinley, the state’s northeast regional forester, a fire alert allows outdoor burning if the fire is less than a quarter of an acre in size and at least 25 feet from any natural fuel, such as brush or wooded areas. McKinley said permits would be issued for these burning conditions if the person applying can assure the forestry commission that the fire will be controlled.
County forest ranger Randy Ginn warned people to continue to exercise extreme caution with all outdoor fires.
“You still need to make sure you clear out the area where you’re burning and make sure you have adequate equipment on hand in case the fire gets away from you,” he suggested.
Ginn attributed the downgrade in Calhoun County to an increase in ground moisture due to recent rain and higher humidity.
A fire alert is the forest commission’s lowest level of warning for dry conditions. McKinley said he did not know when the county could expect the fire alert to be lifted but did say it was in place because of the extensive tornado damage across the state.
“The reason we are staying under a fire alert is because fires are extremely difficult to control, especially around the debris fields and downed timber left by the tornadoes,” he explained.
Twenty-one counties in the southern region of the state remain under drought emergency.