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Officials: Dry days increase fire peril

With fire dangers increasing daily, Mississippi ForestryCommission officials are encouraging residents to delay any burninguntil the area sees some rain.

“If they can wait to burn, we’d like them to wait until we getsome rain,” said Randy Chapin, interim district forester. “There’sno rain predicted for the next seven days, so it’s not going to getany better.”

Chapin said the district, on average, has been responding toseven to 10 fires a day in the district, mostly in the areasimpacted by Hurricane Katrina south and east of Lincoln County. Hesaid the majority of the fires have been debris burns that havegotten out of control.

Officials expect this weekend to be an especially dangerous timefor fires due to high winds and low humidity – in the 30 percentrange.

“That’s going to make suppression a lot more difficult,” Chapinsaid.

While a burn ban for Lincoln County is no longer in effect,Chapin discouraged residents from doing any unnecessary burning.Chapin said the county’s burn ban expired Oct. 8.

“As of right now, we do not have a burn ban in the county,”Chapin said.

Chapin said the commission did not receive an extension requestfrom supervisors. Currently, burn bans are only in effect inWalthall, Marion and Lawrence counties, he said.

Brookhaven ordinances prohibit outdoor burning in the citylimits.

Chapin expressed appreciation to volunteer fire departments fortheir help in responding to fires.

“They are a very valuable asset, and they have helped ustremendously,” Chapin said.