Official: Burn ban not needed, but caution still urged

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Officials here believe it is not necessary for SouthwestMississippi to join in a burn ban affecting a growing number ofMississippi counties.

Nevertheless, due a lack of significant rain recently and winds,officials are urging caution during any burning activities.

“We’ve had a lot of fires, but they’ve calmed down a lot thisweek,” said Clifford Galey, Lincoln County fire coordinator.”Unless (the number of fires) picks up between now and Monday, Idon’t see us needing one.”

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Monday was set as the determining point because any burn banmust be approved by the county board of supervisors, he said, andthe board meets that morning.

Lincoln County received a light dusting of rain Tuesdayafternoon, but it is not likely to have much effect after severalweeks of persistent dry conditions, Galey said. Rain is alsoforecast for several days during the week, but not in sufficientamounts to have an effect on the dry conditions.

“It’s still dry even though things are turning green,” hesaid.

John Locke, a protection forester with the Mississippi ForestryCommission, said there has been some talk locally in Marion andWalthall counties about establishing a ban, but other areas ofSouthwest Mississippi have not started those discussions.

“I have not heard anyone talking about a burn ban here,” hesaid.

There are presently no burn bans in effect in the MFC’sSouthwest District, which covers all or portions of 18 counties,Locke said.

The commission has battled 64 grass fires in Lincoln County thatburned 1,435 acres since July 1 while fighting 719 fires consuming10,771 acres throughout the Southwest District.

In contrast, approximately 3,000 wildfires have damaged morethan 49,600 acres throughout the state during the same time period,according to the MFC.

While wildfires may not be prevalent enough locally for a burnban, Galey said that did not mean residents should not use cautionwhen burning trash or preparing fields for crops.

He recommended residents ensure an adequate water source isavailable and remain vigilant and on site when conducting burns. Healso recommended residents notify the MFC if they plan to burn alarge swath of land.