MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, as of November 21, central Mississippi and west central Alabama are under a moderate drought. The dry weather we’ve been seeing, along with low relative humidity, or RH values, is causing concern for workers at the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
“We’re starting to have fires all over the state now, not big acreage fires because we don’t have the wind right now, but if we’ve had wind we would have some big fires because we have the drought and we have the low RHs at this time,” says Randy Giachelli, fire chief for the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Along with the fire danger, the lack of rain has dried out many creeks used by firefighters to combat forest fires.
“A lot of times in forestry we’ll use small creeks and stuff as fire breaks. But right now, those creeks don’t have water in them, so those creeks are not going to stop a fire. It’s going to cross them and keep going, which is and you know, we’ve got to get in there with heavy equipment and a lot of times it takes us a while to get across that creek and get that fire,” Giachelli explains.
When people need to burn, there are some safety tips you must follow.
“Just be aware to not to pile those limbs up too high to where it burns on into the night and you’re not watching it. You need to be able to burn that pile down in a couple hours and get it out before you leave it,” said Giachelli.
It’s important to obey warnings of any burn bans issued and to not burn on windy days.
“People are burning behind their houses and they’re not watching what they’re doing; they’re lighting the limbs and they’re walking away from it. And those, you know, depending on the wind direction, that fire can run right back to their house or their neighbors house,” says Giachelli.