Lauderdale County has plans in place to combat wildfires

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The California wildfires are a sobering reminder of just how destructive wildfires can be. Local firefighters know under the right conditions, wildfire emergencies can happen just about anywhere and at any time.

"We look at the winds. We look at the humidity levels. We look and see how often we're getting rain, different things of this nature. And then we try to educate our public as best we possibly can on how to properly burn outside, or when not to burn outside," says Allan Dover, Lauderdale County fire coordinator.

In Mississippi, the best chance to see a forest fire is in early spring. Fortunately, most wildfires in the eastern US aren't as destructive or as powerful as the fires out west.

"Of course they have very different conditions out west than we do here; different terrain, different humidity levels, different wind levels, things of that nature, you know, we're watching that and comparing it to what we're seeing here." Dover continued.

But it's still a good idea to listen to instructions from local firefighters when conditions are favorable for wildfires: "When we start looking at those humidity levels, and we start to see them drop, we begin to run public service announcements through WTOK, radio, paper, advising people not to burn."

If you have to burn outside, follow Dover's simple rules: "It's better to burn several small piles than it is to burn one big one, have a water source nearby, preferably a water hose or something of that nature, not necessarily a bucket of water; and that they stay with the fire from beginning to completion and then at the end of it, to rake through the coals, make sure they're watering it down to make sure it is completely out."