State urges people not to burn for fear dry conditions will lead to wildfires

Published 3:24 pm Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) has issued a statewide Wildland Fire Alert, urging the public not to start fires due to dry conditions which make wildfires likely.

Due to the current drought conditions and the predicted weather pattern for the next week, the fire danger rating for the state will remain extremely high.

“There is a cool front expected to move through portions of the state later this week,” said MFC state forester Russell Bozeman. “This front could bring lower humidity and wind, elements that can encourage wildfire growth.”

The state has experienced little to no rainfall over the past several weeks. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a scale designed for fire potential assessment, has the state rated above 600, with parts of the state above 700. The current KBDI rating for Mississippi indicates that six to seven inches, or more, of rain needed to bring soil moisture levels back to normal.

These conditions, combined with the high winds and low humidity expected from the approaching dry cold fronts, create an increased risk for devastating wildland fires.

“There are currently 30 of Mississippi’s 82 counties under a burn ban, and we expect this list to continue to grow,” Bozeman said. “We are asking Mississippians to use caution when doing outdoor activities, and to not do any outdoor burning.”

With deer season opening today, and more people in the forests across the state, the MFC encourages caution around ignition sources, such as discarding cigarette butts and parking vehicles over dry grass.

“Under the current conditions, it only takes one spark or ember to start a devastating wildfire,” said Bozeman.

By Wednesday afternoon more than 35 counties in the state had issued burn bans. A list of counties currently under a burn ban can be found at mfc.ms.gov/burn-bans. If you spot a wildfire, report it immediately by calling 911 and MFC Dispatch at 877-MFC-FIRE.