Ala. firefighters discover 20+ forgotten graves while battling wildfire
“Nobody knew it was there,’’ said Brighton Assistant Fire Chief Kenneth Hooten
By Carol Robinson
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. — Crews battling a woods fire made a surprising discovery in western Jefferson County Tuesday afternoon
Firefighters responded at 2:20 p.m. to reports of a blaze in the 4000 block of Council Avenue in Brighton.
Brighton Assistant Fire Chief Kenneth Hooten, who also is the city’s police lieutenant, said not only did they find flames, but more than 20 grave sites.
“Nobody knew it was there,’’ Hooten said.
Firefighters from Brighton, Lipscomb and Birmingham were able to extinguish the blocks-wide fire, which was deep in the woods.
Officials from the Alabama Forestry Commission also responded. “They were unable to do anything due to the graves,’’ Hooten said.
Hooten said he counted at least 20 graves, many in a deteriorated condition.
One vault had caved in, and the dirt around others was collapsing. Hooten stumbled into one of them.
Google lists that location as Joley Cemetery. Hooten said he has no idea who is buried there but said one of the headstones listed a 1908 death date.
He said he’s interested in finding out more about the site and said they will be investigating.
The cause of the fire is unknown, but Hooten said it’s possible somebody set some tires on fire which led to the brush fire.