MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Left unattended, hundreds of acres of land could go up in smoke if it’s not managed properly. Officials with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System are offering a series of courses in the coming weeks to help landowners “learn to burn.”

The extension agent I spoke with compared prescribed burns to painting–painting the land with fire and there’s no cut-and-dry way the fire may behave on your land. The first “Learn to Burn” sessions in our area are happening today through most of the week in Brewton. This is for any landowner that wants to get some real hands-on experience with fire–what they call torch time.
This is meant to enhance classroom learning and learn more about fire behavior in the field.
Instead of calling this a controlled burn, they prefer the term “prescribed fire.”

“We try to conduct these under certain weather parameters so we better estimate what the fire is going to do and by doing that it allows us to do it in a manner where we can mitigate and moderate the fire intensity and get desired effects without causing wildfires that you see on TV,” said Regional Extension Agent Ryan Mitchell. “When those high fuel loads burn under conditions we’re not prescribing or very dry conditions it can be a “Stand-replacing fire” and kill all the timber in there, so with regular prescribed fires, you’re protecting yourself and your property and your investment.”

Before land management techniques of the early 20th century, wildfires could tear through the landscape unstopped every few years. This reduces the fuel load in large plots of land and reduces the odds of a large fire. There will also be “Learn-to-Burn” sessions next month for Mobile, Washington, and Baldwin Counties. For more information on these free courses, click the link here.