Firefighters hope to gain control today of a forest fire that has blackened more than 350 acres north of Waterloo since Monday.
One home on Lauderdale 90 was evacuated Monday night as the fire burned trees surrounding the wood structure. Firefighters prevented the fire from spreading to the home.
A camping trailer parked in the woods near Lauderdale 90 was destroyed by the fire.
It is the largest forest fire so far this year in the Shoals.
Another fire burned more than 65 acres of fallen trees in an area hit by the April 27 tornado near Phil Campbell on Tuesday before firefighters and foresters from Franklin and Lamar counties gained control of the blaze.
Firefighters from the Alabama Forestry Commission and Waterloo Volunteer Fire Department battled the Lauderdale County the blaze into the night Tuesday before darkness forced them to retreat. Darkness also forced the battle to be called off Monday night.
"It's just too dangerous to be out in the woods fighting a fire in terrain this rugged when you can't see where you are going," said Waterloo Fire Chief Ted Kavich.
"The hills are almost straight up in some places and hard to get up and down them when you can see where you are going during the day and pretty much impossible to maneuver when it's pitch-black dark."
Firefighters were gaining control of the fire Tuesday morning before winds began picking up, causing 30-foot tall flames to jump across furrows that had been plowed in an effort to contain the blaze.
Winds gusted to more than 30 mph at times Tuesday.
"Every time we get a line plowed around the fire, it jumps the line," said Steve McEachron, Lauderdale County manager for the Forestry Commission. "Hopefully the humidity will increase and the wind will die down some and let us get this fire contained."
John Everitt, Colbert County manager for the Forestry Commission, and forest ranger Daniel Goggans were attempting to plow around the fire with a bulldozer before gusty winds caused it to jump over them.
"We were headed up a hollow cutting a line when we looked up and saw the fire jump right over the top of us from the ridge on the left side of us to the one on the right," Everitt said. "That was pretty scary. We had to turn around and backed out after the fire began burning on two sides of us."
Kavich, who was with Everitt and Goggans, said he had never seen a forest fire leap from hill top to hill top like it did Tuesday.
Marilyn Nesmith kept a close watch on the blaze from the porch of her son's home on Lauderdale 90, hoping it did not jump the road.
"This is pretty serious," she said. "We've got the garden hoses ready in case the wind shifts and blows it over this way," she said.
The blaze, which has been named the Hinton Road Fire, is the second largest forest fire in west Lauderdale County this week. Another fire burned 135 acres Sunday and Monday north of Waterloo near the Tennessee line.
The caused of the two Lauderdale fires and the Phil Campbell blaze are under investigation.
Forestry Commission spokeswoman Coleen Vansant recommends north Alabama residents wait until it rains before burning anything outdoors.
"As dry as it is and with the wind being so unpredictable, a brush pile fire or trash fire can get out of control in the blink of an eye," Vansant said. "If everyone could wait until we get some rain to do their outdoor burning it would really help."
There is a slight chance for rain tonight and showers and thunderstorms likely on Thursday.
Dennis Sherer can be reached at 256-740-5746 or dennis.sherer@TimesDaily.com.