Forestry Service Says Ignoring Ban Dangerous

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Since Sept. 1, approximately 3.5 inches of rain has been recorded at Key Field in Meridian. That is a rainfall deficit of just over 4.5 inches. October was one of our driest months, with only .03 of an inch. This accounts for three inches of our deficit. November hasn't been much better. We are already one inch behind for this month.

"Really, we haven't had a good soaking rain since Katrina came through. We had some rain in areas when Rita hit, but not enough to do any good," said Greg Chatham of the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

In the month of October, 600 fires were reported in Mississippi, south of Interstate 20. Unfortunately, many of the fires are being sparked by impatient residents who are frustrated by hurricane debris that hasn't been picked up yet. Residents are taking a big risk if they chose to burn on their own.

"The main thing is just be patient. It's something that doesn't have to be cleaned up right now," Chatham said. "All of us are suffering from it. I myself have storm debris that needs cleaning up. Right now, it is just no time to be burning anything. "

With little rain in the forecast, it will be some time before the burn ban is lifted. We need several weeks of wet weather to reduce the risk of fires getting out of control.

"We really need inch of rain one day a week for four or five weeks. In all reality we are probably not going to get that," said Chatham. "We just need some good slow soaking rains."

If you are caught burning, you could face a fine of up to $500. You could also be held liable for any damage the fire may cause.