Drought Conditions Require An Abundance Of Caution

By on November 4, 2016

11-4-2016-10-23-59-amI am told that fall has arrived, but the temperatures make it difficult to tell! Although we are experiencing cooler nights, our daytime temperatures have frequently felt more like summer.

The biggest problem we are experiencing in North Alabama is lack of rain. Limestone County is under extreme drought conditions, which is the second-highest intensity level. It will take over 10 to 14 inches of rain to take our area out of drought conditions. Climatologists are saying that this is the worst drought we’ve experienced in nearly 10 years.

Vegetation is drying up due to lack of water as you can tell by the crunching sound you hear when you walk across the grass. This creates a very dangerous situation. The simplest spark can cause the dried vegetation to catch fire. According to the Alabama Forestry Commission website, from October 1st through October 28th there were 1,028 wildfires in the state destroying 11,232 acres.

Currently there is little rain in sight.

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“No Burn Order” in effect
Governor Robert Bentley has signed a Drought Emergency Declaration, or a No Burn Order, into effect which includes Limestone County. So what does that mean?
Due to extreme risk of wildfires, it is illegal to do any of the following while a No Burn Order is in effect:
• Set fire to plants, trees, or grass.
• Build a campfire or bon fire
• Burn trash or debris
• Any other type of open burning
Failure to comply could cost the offender up to a $500 fine or 6 months in jail.

Cigarette Litter
As I drove to work earlier this week, I saw a cigarette butt in the middle of a road which was still smoking. All it would have taken was a bit of wind to blow that smoldering filter to the grass and start a fire. These drought conditions have led to a high number of grass fires in our area. I know that there are many causes for this such as farming equipment hitting a rock, vehicles dragging chains, etc. That does not negate the dangers of cigarette butts causing fires, especially in this serious drought situation.
KALB has pocket ashtrays which allow smokers to safely store cigarette butts until they can be properly discarded. PLEASE, if you are a smoker, be a responsible one. Do not toss your butts into the environment where they can cause fires and leach dangerous chemicals into the environment. KALB is not interested in lecturing anyone about the act of smoking; however, we do feel a responsibility to remind those who do smoke to choose not to pollute the environment or take a chance on starting a wildfire.

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Once No Burn Order Lifted
Once the drought conditions have improved and the No Burn Order has been lifted, there are still things we need to remember about open burning. The following information is taken from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management regulations under section 335-3-3-.01.

Open burning authorized by this paragraph shall comply with the following conditions:

• The burning must take place on the property on which the combustible fuel originates;
• The location of the burning must be at least 500 feet from the nearest occupied dwelling, other than a dwelling located on the property on which the burning is conducted;
• The burning must be controlled so as to avoid creating a traffic hazard on any public road, street, or highway as a result of the air contaminants emitted;
• Only vegetation and untreated wood may be burned. It is unauthorized to open burn heavy oils, asphalt products, plastics, vinyl materials, insulation, paper, cardboard, natural or synthetic rubber, salvage or scrap materials, chemicals, garbage, treated or painted wood, or any trash;
• Initial burning may be commenced only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. No combustible material is to be added to the fire between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. the following day;
• Burning shall be conducted only when there is good ventilation and when the prevailing wind direction is away from any built-up area in the vicinity. No burning shall be conducted in areas under a current air stagnation advisory issued by the National Weather Service or during a “Drought Emergency” declared by the Governor;
• The fire shall be attended at all times.

Let’s work together to keep our community safe.
By: Lynne Hart