There are currently eight active burn bans in counties across Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC).
Counties under a burn ban include: Adams, Copiah, Lauderdale, Lee, Lincoln, Montgomery, Rankin and Tate.
The MFC uses the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) to assess the risk for potential wildfires. The KBDI attempts to measure the amount of precipitation, in inches, necessary to return the soil to full field capacity.
Currently, the entire state is over 600 on the KBDI, with parts of the state over 700. This means that six to seven inches of rain are needed to bring soil moisture conditions back to normal.
“Because of the dry conditions across the state, we have gotten requests from a number of county boards of supervisors to enact burn bans,” said MFC state forester Russell Bozeman. “A burn ban means outdoor burning of any kind is prohibited.”
Burn bans are requested by the county board of supervisors and approved by MFC. Typical burn bans are effective for one month and expire at midnight on the stated date of expiration. Burn bans are enforced by the local sheriff’s department.
“Under state law, any person who knowingly and willfully violates a burn ban is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined up to $500,” Bozeman said.
The MFC is urging the public to use extreme caution when starting outdoor fires. Any spark or ember can start a wildfire. Here are some tips to help reduce the risk of wildfire.
- Check for city and county burn bans. County burn bans can be found at http://www.mfc.ms.gov/burn-bans. Check with local government for city burn bans.
- Do not burn on windy days.
- If you start a fire, do not leave the flame unattended.
- Make sure coals are cool to the touch. This indicates the fire is completely out.
- Wait until after a rain event before doing any outdoor burning.
“Being aware of the current conditions is the best way people can keep themselves and their property safe,” said Bozeman. “If there is any question on whether you should or shouldn’t burn, choose to wait.”
Under the current conditions, Smokey Bear’s words, “Only you can prevent wildfires,” are good advice for all Mississippians to follow.