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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Rain eases fire restrictions in Alabama

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Thursday, November 23, 2023   

Some Alabama residents can breathe a sigh of relief as rain showers have finally brought an end to a statewide fire ban.

The Alabama Forestry Commission lifted burn restrictions in 33 counties in the southern half of the state on Wednesday. However, Alabama is not in the clear just yet. Fire officials in the northern half of the state say 23 counties will transition from a no burn order to a less restrictive fire alert.

Rick Oates, state forester, said some unsafe conditions still exist.

"Those three factors; the drought, the humidity and the wind; it creates a big potential for fires and creates fire," Oates outlined. " Strange fire behavior that is not predictable as what we would normally encounter in a fire."

While the rainfall has brought much-needed relief for many areas, 11 counties, including Blount, Calhoun, Cherokee, Clay, Cleburne, Etowah, Jefferson, Randolph, Shelby, St. Clair, and Talladega, still remain under the no burn order due to low moisture levels and persistent drought conditions. Oates added burn permits will only be issued to prescribed burn managers.

Since the beginning of October, Alabama has seen nearly 800 wildfires, consuming almost 8,000 acres of land. Oates pointed out each blaze firefighters gear up for puts a strain on limited resources and increases the risk for crews. With this in mind, they urged people to be cautious and follow local fire restrictions.

"Just like with a structural house fire, you know, when somebody goes in there to fight that fire, it's dangerous," Oates explained." Our guys out there in the woods fighting fires, it's a danger too. And, you know, we just ask people to really think about what they're doing and don't take any unnecessary risks."

He emphasized they have about 180 firefighters on staff and work closely with five departments across the state. The current burn restrictions will be in effect until Oates determines conditions have improved.


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