Walker County commissioners renewed a burn ban Monday, with an increasing risk of outdoor fires in select areas of the county
The burn ban, which has been in effect since August 3, regulates all outdoor burning. The only burning that is allowed has been firefighter training, public utility, natural gas or mining operations, planting or harvesting of agriculture crops and burns that are conducted by a prescribed burn manager.
Walker County Emergency Management Coordinator Butch Davis recommended renewing the ban, because the county’s rating on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, a measure for calculating an area’s potential for wildfire, had reached 659 in the northern part of the county.
“The southwestern portion of the county is fairly wet, but we still have some dry parts,” Davis noted after his department and area fire crews responded to a pair of wildfires over the weekend.
The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions. The average in Walker County is at 534, while the southwestern edge of the county is at 281.
“It is still dangerous,” Huntsville Fire Chief Greg Mathis added. “The city is in pretty good shape, but we still have some dangerous areas in the county.”
A violation of the court order prohibiting outdoor burning is a Class C Misdemeanor and punishable by a fine up to $500.