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Burn ban in effect for one month

It’s dry in Lincoln County and is expected to get even dryer. That’s why Lincoln County supervisors Thursday agreed to a one-month burn ban suggested by the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

County Forester Steven Williams told supervisors that the number of grass fires has increased as the dry conditions continue.

“It’s getting serious now,” he said. “Right now, it’s to the point, I can’t guarantee you I can get a fire out. If the humidity drops and wind picks up, I’m going to have trouble containing a fire. That’s the reason I’m asking for a burn ban.”

Some counties in the state passed a ban with exemptions, allowing burns by the MFC, certified burn managers, county fire services and commercial contractors and agriculturists.

Williams recommended supervisors pass the ban without exemptions.

“This is for public safety,” he said.

The ban, which is set to expire Oct. 26, passed 3-0. District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson arrived after the vote and District 5 Supervisor Doug Falvey was absent.

“Usually, when you ask for this, it rains shortly after,” District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown said.

“Hey, if that’s what it takes,” Williams said.

A sufficient amount of rain could lift the ban earlier. However, the current seven-day forecast does not predict significant rainfall amounts large enough to pull the state out of the current drought, according to the forestry commission.

Only .13 inches of rain has fallen in the county this month, according to The Daily Leader records.

The U.S. drought monitor puts Lincoln County in the “abnormally dry” category. Just to the west, counties are considered in “moderate drought.”

“Since Sept. 9, MFC wildland firefighters have responded to 120 wildfires across the state that have burned approximately 2,100 acres,” State Forester Russell Bozeman said in a news release. “Current weather conditions are optimal for wildfires. We are asking Mississippians to use extreme caution when starting an outdoor fire.”

A burn ban means no outdoor burning of any kind. Under state law, anyone caught burning during a burn ban may be fined up to $500. Individuals are also responsible for any damage caused by the flames or smoke from a fire they set.

Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said deputies will ask the homeowners to extinguish controlled burns, and if they do not they will be ticketed.

Williams will ask the Lawrence County Board of Supervisors to approve a ban at their meeting next week.