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October 15, 2007

Outdoor fire threat continues to grow

Cooler temperatures along with lower humidity makes fall feel much better especially with football season in full swing and the major hunting seasons right around the corner.

But the low pressure systems, and the blustery winds normally associated with them, also brings with them the threat of outdoor woods and brush fires.

Lauderdale County, along with many other counties in the state, are still very, very dry due to low rainfall. State forestry commission officials feel the threat is becoming so real they foresee numerous burn bans upcoming from local county leaders if conditions don’t change soon.

“Fall traditionally means people want to get out in their yards, rake up the leaves and pick up limbs so they can burn them,” said Ed Brown of the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s South Central District in Bay Springs. “We may not have a burn ban in place now but we want to caution people against burning right now. Let’s wait until we get some rain before we resort to burning.”

According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission Web site only two counties in the state are under burn bans. They are, Chickasaw County until Nov. 1, and Lee County, which will expire its burn ban on Oct. 31.

“In the fiscal year that began in July, we’ve had statewide 495 fires that have burned more than 5,300 acres,” said Brown. “The conditions are such right now that even on our site preparation burns we conduct, we have to be extra careful.”

In Mississippi this weekend there were 18 fires reported that scorched about 250 acres of land. Eight of those fires were reported in Lauderdale County. Tippah County has suffered the worst in recent days with more than 100 acres of woodland burned.

October is Fire Prevention Month. Brown said this prevention goes beyond the home and business and includes outside burning as well. He advises all residents to adhere to common sense when attempting to burn outside.

“First and foremost I would ask residents not to do it but if you have to burn, be very careful,” Brown said. “Don’t burn on windy days and have a water supply close at hand.”

The South Central District consists of Clarke, Covington, Jasper, Jones, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Neshoba, Newton, Scott, Smith, Wayne counties.

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