GULF SHORES, Ala. (WKRG) — Most of the campground is empty in Gulf State Park. Fire breaks have been cut around trails and boardwalks and now it’s a waiting game.
“We’re waiting for the perfect weather,” Park Naturalist Kelly Reetz said.
Almost 600 acres of the state park, north of the campground, is set to be burned to reduce the fuel – like small trees, brush, dead branches – that could feed a wildfire.
“Our burn window was from the 15th all the way through the 28th, so we are still inside that window,” Reetz said. “We never had expectations of burning on the 15th that was our getting ready day, setting out the sprinklers, getting staged. So we are still inside that window.”
The last time that part of the park burned was during a wildfire in 2011. Back then, 13 hundred acres were scorched by flames started by the hot coals from a grill in the campground. This time, state park and state forestry commission staff plan a controlled burn but under the right conditions.
“The right weather, right wind, right relative humidity. The drought index number has to be in the right range,” Reetz said
Those conditions change every day but when the fire is set it will be quick, according to Reetz.
“They are expected to do the entire burn in one day and it’s just under 600 acres,” she said.
Forestry and state park officials are now looking at a target date of Monday, Aug. 21, to start the fire if conditions are right.