Officials fear multiple wildfires during drought

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Due to lack of rain, wildfires have been causing major issues for local fire departments.

“Please, do not set anything on fire,” Lauderdale County Fire Coordinator Allan Dover says. “Just about everybody in the county is combating fires. In some cases there have been citations issued because these people have been warned not to do that,” Dover says.

Over the weekend heavy smoke blanketed the city of Meridian. Evidence of wildfires burning in Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. Officials say the fire threat is higher than it’s been in a very long time. Only six out of Mississippi’s 82 counties are not under a burn ban. Those six counties are on the coast and along the Mississippi River.

“The wood on some of the buildings, barns and structures is so dry. It is so dry that normally if an ember hit it, it would go out; now it’ll ignite,” Greg Chatham with the Mississippi Forestry Commission says.

Officials are saying there have been a high number of brush fires in the southern part of the county. They are looking into how they started.

“Right now it’s too early to say that they are or aren’t connected. There are some things about them that really don’t make sense to us,” Dover explains.

Dover stresses that if you have seen anyone on a dirt road or in wooded areas around the time of a fire, to let fire officials know about it.

“They may be or may not be starting these fires. Just make a mental note of it,” Dover says.