The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) has reported a significant increase in wildfire occurrences across the state, with their wildland firefighters responding to approximately 260 calls between August 1 and August 18. These fires have already burned approximately 5,000 acres of land, threatening lives, homes, and businesses. In response to the escalating risk, Governor Tate Reeves has implemented a partial state-level burn ban in 40 out of 82 counties, effective immediately.
“Much of the state is experiencing severe drought conditions,” warned MFC State Forester Russell Bozeman. “Even our northern areas are seeing these drought conditions now.”
To effectively manage the situation, the MFC has mobilized an Incident Management Team (IMT) in Wiggins, MS. This collaboration of MFC employees, along with local, state, and federal partners, aims to enhance response capabilities and coordinate efforts to mitigate the risk of wildfires. The MFC IMT will remain deployed as long as necessary.
Under the partial state-level burn ban, all outdoor burning is strictly prohibited in the affected counties. Violators will face fines and be held accountable for any fire-related damages. The MFC strongly discourages unnecessary outdoor burning in other parts of the state due to the prevailing drought conditions. However, using gas, propane, pellet, and charcoal grills is permitted if proper safety precautions are followed.
“Wildfires occur in Mississippi more often than people realize,” emphasized Bozeman. “We want Mississippians to understand the danger and ensure they are prepared should a wildfire threaten their home.”
To ensure the safety of homes and communities, the MFC offers the Firewise™ program, an educational initiative that equips homeowners and community leaders with vital information and resources. By implementing Firewise™ practices, individuals can better protect their properties from the devastating impact of wildfires.
Here are a few Firewise™ tips to safeguard your home:
– Create and maintain at least 30 feet of defensible space around your home through proper landscaping.
– Remove potential hazards such as wood piles and prune overhanging limbs.
– Keep your lawn hydrated and maintained (using sprinklers helps)
Remember, 9 out of 10 wildfires are human-caused!
To report a wildfire, call 911 or contact MFC’s Central Dispatch at 833-MFC-FIRE.
To learn more about wildfire prevention, click here, or like and follow @MSForestryComm on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.