JACKSON, Miss. – 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.
The MFC is the only state agency charged with suppressing, monitoring, and detecting wildfire activity occurring day and night on Mississippi’s forestland. MFC Wildland Firefighters work long hours in demanding and dangerous conditions to protect lives, homes, and natural resources.
This past Fiscal Year, MFC Wildland Firefighters suppressed 1,422 wildfires that burned over 40,000 acres. 966 houses, commercial buildings, and other structures were saved from wildfire, and 33 structures were damaged or destroyed.
“Very few wildfires 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.”
To help prevent wildfires, the MFC offers these tips:
- Check for local or statewide burn bans here: mfc.ms.gov/burning-info/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 is 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.