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Extreme caution urged when burning storm debris

April 2020 was an extremely active month for tornadoes in Mississippi. Storms on two consecutive weekends brought damage and destruction to the south-central portion of the state.

The “burn pile” is a common feature on many Mississippi properties. Many Mississippians use fire as a means of getting rid of yard debris, especially after spring and summer storms. However, if debris burning is not carried out responsibly and with the proper precautions in place, burn piles can quickly become wildfires.

“We understand that burning leaves and sticks is a common way of cleaning up your yard. However, if you decide to burn your yard debris, there are certain precautions that should be taken.”

Russell Bozeman, MFC State Forester

The MFC is urging Mississippians to use extreme caution when burning debris from the April storms, as well as any other yard debris. Here are some important things to consider before burning.

  • Check local ordinances to see if burning is permitted in your city.
  • Check the MFC website for countywide or statewide burn bans.
  • Check your local forecast. Don’t burn on dry, windy days.
  • Check for alternative ways to dispose of trash, such as a landfill.

If you do decide to burn, here are some tips to ensure your fire doesn’t become a wildfire.

  • Burn site should be cleared and down to the bare soil.
  • Have a water source close by your fire. 
  • Have adequate assistance, depending on the size of the burn pile.
  • Never leave fire or hot coals unattended.
  • Make sure fire is completely extinguished and coals are cool to the touch before leaving burn site.

“The storms that tore through Mississippi in April left large amounts of vegetative debris in their wake,” Bozeman said. “We encourage Mississippians to find alternative ways to dispose of this debris. If you choose to burn, please do so responsibly. It only takes one spark or ember to start a wildfire.”