The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) is deploying one Wildland Firefighting Task Force Leader to Oklahoma, where this individual will assist state and federal partners with wildfire suppression efforts. He will arrive near Oklahoma City on Saturday, April 14, 2018. This individual also served on the Texas Wildland Firefighting strike team, which returned home on Thursday, April 5, 2018. His name will be released upon his safe return to Mississippi in approximately two weeks.
“We appreciate our employees taking part in these efforts to help our state and federal partners in Oklahoma, especially going back out so soon. 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 are proud of his service and look forward to his safe return home in approximately two weeks.”
Oklahoma is currently experiencing critical wildfire weather conditions. Earlier today, officials ordered evacuations for some areas, and several large wildfires were still active. The “34 Complex Fire” is estimated to have burned close to 60,000 acres at present.
How the Mississippi Forestry Commission fights wildfires
MFC Wildland Firefighters “fight fire with fire”. They create a fire line (aka fire break) by using bulldozers to plow through vegetation (down to mineral soil) around the perimeter of the wildfire, then they light a controlled backfire along the inner edge of the fire line to consume additional 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.