Wildfire flares up again, leaves behind 347 acres of scorched earth

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023

CENTER — Firefighters from local volunteer fire departments and the Mississippi Forestry Commission had a wildfire 100 percent contained last night. Crews went to check on the pine plantation this morning to discover the fire had flared up again.

MFC Public Information Officer Kevin Craft said it is fairly normal for a fire to get going again especially in these conditions. All it takes is a smoldering stump, some wind and dry fuel for the fire to get going again. At its peak, the fire reached 347 acres in size off of Trace Road in Lawrence County.

Residents of Lincoln and Lawrence County will likely see smoke in the air until we get another rainfall, Craft said. A burn ban is still in effect for 45 counties. Craft asked residents to heed the burn ban and to take precautions.

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“The cause of the fire is still unknown. We ask the public to not do any outdoor burning of any kind. Chains need to be secure and please check your tires and trailer tires,” Craft said. “It might not be the best idea to bush hog right now. All it takes is a hot bearing or hitting a rock to start a fire and it is out of control quickly. We ask anyone who does outdoor work to be careful. Even cutting down a tree with a chainsaw, if you hit a nail or rock a spark could cause a fire. It doesn’t take much at all to start a fire right now.”

Grills are not covered by the burn ban but they should be used in areas away from dry grass or other flammable objects. Even parking vehicles in tall grass could be enough to start a wildfire.

Craft said these dry conditions are not something often seen in September. Wildfire season for the MFC typically starts in October. He said he does not expect conditions to change any time soon. It would take about 20 to 30 inches of rain to bring the area out of drought conditions and to a safe place to burn.

As a result of the dry conditions, plants are showing stress so people should be mindful when gardening or doing work outside.

“Any trimming is not recommended and be mindful of limbs,” Craft said. “Even the pine tree needles are starting to turn brown and that never happens this time of year. Every aspect of timber or any flowering plant is very stressed right now.”