Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gulf State Park fire battle continues with eye on weather

Gulf State Park Fire 2011
A Chinook helicopter, piloted by the Alabama National Guard, carries water to drop on the wildfire in Gulf State Park Thursday, June 30, 2011, in Gulf Shores, Alabama. 

GULF SHORES, Alabama -- The fire that has burned more than 600 acres of the Alabama Gulf State Park was being contained today as officials monitored the weather and the progress of the blaze.
More than 3,000 phosphorus incendiary balls were dropped in the path of the fire Wednesday in an effort to create controlled burns that would consume the fuel needed for the wildfire to spread, Jerry Smith of the Alabama Forestry Commission said.
“We still have some intentional burning today going on trying to get all our lines secured around it,” he said. “We’ve got some hand-cutting with chain saws as well to get rid of any snags that might allow it to spread. Right now, we’re just waiting to see what the weather is going to do.”
He said today's conditions were better for firefighters than earlier in the week. Updrafts were lifting the smoke away from the ground and a north wind was helping in firefighting efforts.
Smith said an aerial survey Wednesday indicated that 623 acres of the 6,150 acres of the park had burned. He said another 200 to 300 acres within the contained area are threatened.
Officials have said that the fire may have begun Saturday at a campsite in the park.

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