Meridian Star

January 24, 2014

Burn ban in place for county

The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — By Brian Livingston

Allan Dover, coordinator for the Lauderdale County Fire Service announced Thursday morning Lauderdale County is under a burn ban because of dry conditions.

No one should burning anything outside until weather conditions change dramatically, Dover said.

"We are forecast for some light snow next week and I don't believe right now that will change anything," Dover said Thursday afternoon. "We have terribly dry conditions, low humidity, and gusty winds. Right now that is a recipe for disaster."

Dover said even light rain or snow wouldn't be enough to overcome the dry conditions conducive to forest fires.

Dover said he met with the county forester with the Mississippi Forestry Commission and a technician with the MFC Thursday morning to evaluate the fire risk. As evidenced by a fast moving, eight acre brush fire volunteer firefighters had to fight Thursday on Townsend Byrd Road that threatened seven homes, the conditions are ripe for a major fire that could threaten homes, property, and even lives.

Dover sent a request to the Mississippi State Forester who issued a burn ban for the county. Hinds, Rankin, Simpson and Wayne counties are also under a burn ban, with more counties expected to join.

Lauderdale County firefighters have responded to multiple brush fires recently.

"All the brush fires we've had to respond to is taking a toll on men and material," Dover said. "We are used to answering calls, that's not the issue. But when you double and triple the number of calls, then the firefighters get tired, the trucks and equipment get more wear and tear on them more quickly, and in the daytime when most brush fires occur, we don't get the response of manpower because so many of the volunteers are at work. They do their best to leave work but it does, many times, leave us short in terms of boots on the ground."

Dover said members of the fire service assisted Thursday in the brush fire on Townsend Byrd Road because of a lack of available firefighters.

According to the MFC, any person who knowingly and willfully violates a burning ban is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined not less than $100 and not more than $500.

Dover said the chance of someone being ticketed are slim but if a sheriff's deputy or fire officials deem this is a habitual offense, then tickets could be issued.

"We are not out to have residents written up," Dover said. "We are asking that residents to respect the ban and the firefighters by waiting until the conditions change. Better days are coming but right now is not the time to burn."