Burn ban in place to ensure safety

Published 10:31 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Though it might be tempting to dismiss the county’s burn ban as unnecessary, please don’t.

Lincoln County is in what weather forecasters have classified as “moderate drought” or “severe drought.”  Most areas of the state are several inches below normal rainfall totals.

The past few months have also been warmer than normal. Jackson had the 10th warmest summer on record, according to the National Weather Service. Hattiesburg had the fifth warmest.

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The lack of rain and warm temps means the danger of fire is high. “Intense, deep burning fires can be expected. Live fuels can also be expected to burn actively at these levels,” the weather service said.

Civil Defense Director Clifford Galey said following recommendations by the Mississippi Fire Commission the county should enact a burn ban until Nov. 2 with no exemptions, which it did. Lawrence, Franklin, Copiah and Pike counties are also under a burn ban.

Galey said the West Lincoln Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call Friday afternoon that started as a small trash fire and grew to burn 50 acres before it could be extinguished.

That’s the danger of any kind of outdoor burning while dry conditions persist. What starts out as a small fire can quickly burn several acres — or worse. Galey said one ticket has been written in Lincoln County for violating a burn ban.

Any person who knowingly and willfully violates a burning ban is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined not less than $100 and no more than $500.  While the fine may be a deterrent, the possibility of scorching your property or your neighbor’s should keep folks from violating the ban.

The tricky part for residents is knowing when the county is under a burn ban. There’s no notification system, so residents must check the Mississippi Forestry Commission website before burning. But common sense should come into play here. We all know it’s been hot and dry, which means burning is dangerous. When in doubt, either don’t light the fire or check with the MFC or your supervisor before you do.