Fire Danger Prompts the Forest Service to Issue Fire Closures in Alabama’s National Forests
Montgomery, AL (June 8, 2011) ---- With fire danger being extremely high, the USDA Forest Service has issued a fire closure throughout Alabama’s national forests that includes that Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega and Tuskegee. Forest Supervisor Steve Lohr signed an order that prohibits the use of fire or campfires in any location of a national forest without developed recreation sites. National Forest visitors also are restricted from using fireworks or other pyrotechnic devices. The closure order goes into effect from June 7 until September 31.
According to Forest Supervisor Steve Lohr, Alabama is experiencing a severe drying condition and fire danger is extremely high. Dry conditions increase the chance and intensity of a wildfire. A build-up of fuels, such as dead trees and brush, when combined with drought, causes a tinderbox. The moisture content of living and dead plants are so low, that any spark, ember, or other ignition sources that touch these plants is virtually certain to ignite and unwanted wildland fire.
“This fire season is expected to become longer and more difficult; so teamwork is essential in preventing wildfires and improving the safety of the public and firefighters,” said Lohr. Forest visitors can help prevent wildfires by checking spark arrestors on off-road vehicles and other equipment with internal-combustion engines to ensure they are in working order. Drivers in the forest should stay on designated roads and never park on dry brush or grass, to avoid risk of starting a fire. Check fire restrictions and alerts by visiting us online at www.fs.usda.gov/alabama, control campfires that are built in designated fire rings by making sure they are out and crushing cigarettes in ashtrays.
To protect the public and natural resources from the threat of wildfires, the following public restrictions are effective June 7, 2011 and will remain in effect until September 31, 2011:
Bankhead, Conecuh, Talladega, and Tuskegee National Forests
1. Building, maintaining, attending, using a fire or campfire (wood or charcoal), or stove fire is prohibited.
36 CFR 261.52(a)
Exemptions to this prohibition are fires that are built at a developed recreation area within the designated fire rings. Additionally, the use of gas or liquid fuel type stoves or backpacking stoves will be allowed.
2. Violating any state law concerning burning or fires which are implemented for the purpose of preventing or restricting the spread of fires. 36 CFR 261.52(k)
3. Possessing, discharging or using any kind of firework or other pyrotechnic device is prohibited.
36 CFR 261.52(f)
Persons who are exempt from the order include:
1) Persons with a permit specifically authorizing the otherwise prohibited act or omission. Pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50(e),
2) Any Federal, State, or local officer, or member of an organized rescue or fire fighting force, in the performance of an official duty. Pursuant to 36 CFR 261.50(e)
Anyone found violating any of these prohibitions might face a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.
For information concerning any forest closure orders, please contact one of the following Forest Service district offices: Bankhead District (205) 489-5111, Conecuh District (334) 222-2555, Shoal Creek District (256) 463-2272; Talladega District (256) 362-2909; Oakmulgee District (205) 926-9765; and the Tuskegee District (334) 727-2652.