Governor Robert Bentley on Monday announced that he has approved $690,000 in emergency funds to support the efforts of the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) and fire departments as they fight dangerous wildfires across the state.
"In recent months, Alabama has faced extreme drought conditions that have enabled a record number of fires to form across the state," Governor Bentley said. "The Alabama Forestry Commission and local fire departments are to be commended for their countless hours of service and efforts in keeping Alabamians safe. With no significant rain in sight, I know the emergency funds will help cover some of the expenses AFC personnel are facing as they are working to contain fires throughout the state."
From October 1 to November 7, AFC has spent $1,128,000 in equipment usage, repairs, fuel, and man-hours worked, as well as 8,000 hours in compensatory time accrual. In the process of battling wildfires across the state, the agency is expending both resources and funding in an inordinately short time. For that same time period, AFC is over budget by approximately $470,000. Although the agency has tried to stay within budget, the wildfires have maxed out financial resources.
"These emergency funds will go a long way in protecting lives and property across the state," said Gary M. Cole, Interim State Forester. "The costs incurred from this unusually intense fall wildfire season have already depleted the Alabama Forestry Commission's wildfire suppression budget, and we have yet to face the more significant fire season in the spring. We are grateful to Governor Bentley for providing this necessary financial assistance."
As of November 7th, all 67 counties in the state of Alabama have been placed under a "No Burn' order which prohibits all outdoor burning. The Governor is currently offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person who is responsible for setting wildfires. To report persons burning in violation of this law, contact your local law enforcement. For more information on the current wildfire situation in the state, visit Alabama Forestry Commission's website at www.forestry.alabama.gov.