From our perch more than 2,500 miles away, the California wildfires seem perpetual and abstract, but those who live nearby find them terrifying.

They have good reason. When forest fires take hold, they’re difficult to contain and can consume everything in their path.

Last year, California saw 8,527 fires consume almost 2 million acres, including homes and other structures, and the lives of 6 firefighters and 97 civilians.

That’s important for us to remember here in Alabama, where forestry officials have sounded the alarm about our extremely dry weather.

The Alabama Forestry Commission issued a statewide fire alert on Wednesday, warning that any fire can quickly spread out of control. Officials point out that AFC firefighters responded last week to 182 wildfires that burned more than 2,600 acres.

The alert means outdoor burning permits are restricted and will be issued at the discretion of the state forester.

Anyone who burns a field, grassland, or woodland without a permit may be prosecuted, which may well be the least of their problems should their fire be the one that sets the Wiregrass aflame.

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