The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is deploying a bulldozer strike team and two division supervisors to Oklahoma to assist state and federal partners with wildfire suppression efforts. Eight MFC Wildland Firefighters will travel overnight to arrive in Shawnee, Oklahoma the morning of Friday, March 16, 2018.
“We are extremely proud of our employees who are taking part in these efforts to help our state and federal partners in Oklahoma. Fighting the destructive power of wildfire means that our Wildland Firefighters are working in extreme conditions protecting people’s lives, homes, and forestland,” said Charlie Morgan, State Forester. “We wish them a safe trip and look forward to their return home in approximately two weeks.”
Oklahoma has several active wildfires, including one that is estimated to have burned more than 27,650 acres across Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma (Stateline Fire). At this time, the west half of Oklahoma is under a burn ban. With exhausted resources and high winds in the forecast, several states are headed to help under the South Central Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact. These states include Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, Georgia, and Alabama.
How the Mississippi Forestry Commission fights wildfires
MFC Wildland Firefighters “fight fire with fire”. They plow a fire line (aka fire break) with bulldozers around the perimeter of the wildfire, then light a controlled backfire along the inner edge of the fire line to consume the vegetation – this lack of “fuel” for the wildfire creates a barrier to slow or stop the spread of the wildfire. However, their job is not yet finished – even after containment has been reached, wildland firefighters continue to monitor the area. Since the wind can spread hot embers across fire lines, new spot fires may occur as far away as one-half mile from the original wildfire that must be suppressed. Depending on the size, location, wind conditions, and intensity of the wildfire – it may have to be monitored anywhere from several hours to several days to make sure the wildfire is no longer a threat to life, property, or forestland.