Conditions Dangerous for Outdoor Burning

MGN Online
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Lauderdale County, Miss. Over the past several days, weather has been dry and windy, increasing the chance for fires.

Most of Mississippi and Alabama were under red flag warnings Saturday, which mean conditions are favorable for rapidly spreading fire.

The Forestry Commission and firefighters have been on the alert.

"This time of the year people start getting out wanting to clean up their garden spots, clean up raked leaves, clean up their yards, and it's just a busy time of the year," said Greg Chatham of the Mississippi Forestry Commission. "It all hinges on the weather. We just ask people to use common sense. It can happen so quickly. A small debris fire can quickly get away from you right now."

Should you absolutely have to burn, Chatham says there is one major thing you should keep in mind.

"Never assume that a fire is out," said Chatham. "We've had some cases where people will empty the charcoal out of a grill or they will be burning a little pile in the yard, and there will be no smoke; but again because the fuel is so dry on top of the ground, it will rekindle, could be hours, could be the next day."

Several fires already recorded in January would have been worse, Chatham says, without the heroics of volunteer fire departments.

"With the south central district this weekend, we responded to, I think, five fires; had 50 plus acres burn," Chatham said. "It would have been a lot more acres, except for the quick response from our volunteer firemen. When they get called out, they have saved some acres from being burned."

So far this month, officials say there have been 22 wildfires in the district that have burned about 136 acres.