Gov. Tate Reeves has proclaimed March as “Wildfire Prevention Month” in Mississippi, announced the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC).
Historically, March has one of the highest wildfire occurrence rates of the year due to the transition from winter to spring, dry vegetation, and windy conditions. Wildfire Prevention Month highlights the responsibility of Mississippians to help protect forests, their homes, and, ultimately, their lives by focusing on how to prevent wildfires.
Mississippi has had an early start to the wildfire season this year. Deficient rainfall plays a vital role in the severity of a fire season, and most of the state has had long intervals of below-average rainfall. A Red Flag Warning was issued for Mississippi in February when low relative humidity and high winds combined to produce an increased risk of fire danger.
On February 15, MFC Wildland Firefighters suppressed and contained 87 wildfires that burned over 4,600 acres, the most wildfires in a single day since 2019. In February, Mississippi had 440 wildfires that burned 15,640 acres. MFC Wildland Firefighters saved 265 houses, commercial buildings, and other structures. Wildfires damaged or destroyed three homes, commercial buildings, and other structures.
“Few fires in Mississippi are ignited by lightning or natural causes,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester, “most are started by accidental activities by people. The leading cause of wildfires in our state is escaped debris burns, therefore with proper care, these fires could have been prevented.”
- Check for local or statewide burn bans.
- Check the local weather forecast. Do not burn on dry, windy days.
- Choose a safe burn site, away from flammable materials, and surround the ground around your burn site with bare dirt or gravel.
- Only burn untreated wood debris. Plastic, rubber tires, or other manufactured materials may not be burned.
- Always have a water source close by.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
“Mississippi’s 19.2 million acres of forestland are vital to the health and well-being of the state,” Bozeman said. “The MFC thanks Gov. Reeves for his proclamation, and we ask all Mississippians to be responsible when burning on their property. Remember, only YOU can prevent wildfires.”
To report a wildfire, call 833-MFC-Fire. Contact law enforcement if you suspect someone of violating local burn bans or burning prohibited items.
For more wildfire prevention information, visit mfc.ms.gov and follow @MSForestryComm on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.