May 13, 2009

State of Alabama
Press Release: Forestry Commission, Alabama

New Alabama Forestry Commission Initiative to Protect Homes

From 2004 through 2008, Alabama experienced over 17,700 wildfires burning more than 247,000 acres. Unfortunately trees were not the only victims. During the past five years, 212 homes were damaged or destroyed from wildfire in the state. Another 736 other structures, as well as 806 vehicles burned as a result of wildfire during this time frame. State Forester Linda Casey recently commented, “We believe homes damaged or destroyed by wildfire are simply unacceptable, especially if such tragedy can be prevented.”

The Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) has embarked on an initiative to encourage homeowners living in the Wildland Urban Interface to increase their home’s defensible space. Wildland urban interface or “WUI” is the area where urban development and wildlands meet. With more and more people moving to and living in rural areas of the state, the AFC and local fire departments are facing new and difficult issues in providing adequate fire protection. The threat from wildfire is very real and there are no guarantees that there is the capability to protect all homes, particularly during periods of high fire occurrence and extreme weather conditions. However, by taking personal responsibility for reducing hazards around your property, homeowners may substantially reduce the risks from damages caused by wildfire.

The Southern Wildfire Risk Assessment has identified areas in Alabama with a high susceptibility for wildfire. Current research indicates that 803 communities in Alabama are at high or very high risk from wildfires while 6,683 communities are at moderate risk. Where possible, the Alabama Forestry Commission will provide cost-share programs to help with the expenses related to hazardous fuel reduction in these wildfire-prone communities and other priority areas covered under community wildfire protection plans. For more information, contact your county AFC office.

Professionals with the Alabama Forestry Commission have the training and experience to guide homeowners through the process of hazard reduction on their property. Consultations are free upon request. Additional information can be found by going to the Commission’s website, and clicking on the link, “Homes, Communities in the Forest.”

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