"Normally, we just crossed a drainage ditch, it should have water in it. I would say, 12 months out of the year. But it's so dry, you can see how it's just full of debris. And fire crossing."
That's Greg Chatham. He's a technician with the Mississippi Forestry Commission of Lauderdale County. As you can see, he was cut off mid-sentence because of this. Fire was spreading so rapidly that he had to move as quickly as possible. And this is what South Industrial Park in Meridian looked like Sunday. Fires continue to pop all over the place because of the dryness.
"It's definitely getting worse. There doesn't seem to be an end in sight. Humidity is very low. The winds are very high," says Chatham.
The fire danger across much of our area has been enhanced by the lack of rainfall. Add the low humidity and the high winds and you've got a very dangerous situation. That's why officials with the Mississippi Forestry Commission are asking everyone to be especially careful at this time.
"Just want to remind people not to throw cigarettes out the widows of cars. Be careful even if you pull over and park in tall grass. Converters and mufflers can start fire. Like we talked about a while back, things that you normally wouldn't even think of starting a fire. It's gotten that dry now. Your fuel moisture is so low. Soil is just dried out."
And there doesn't look to be any rain in the near future. Reports are showing the next two to three weeks as another dry spell. Combine that with the wind and humidify and fires are bound to spread out of control. Chatham says the conditions now are rare.
"That's correct. Any time you see, as you see in the background, Kudzu burning. When stuff green like Kudzu and other plants burn up completely you know that there is pretty much no moisture at all," says Chatham.
The increase in fires is also starting to take a toll on local volunteers. The manpower has been working non-stop.
"Keeping up with equipment, trying to keep people prepare to go. Everyone is on call. Everyone is on standby. Our hats are off to the volunteers. They're catching it, the city fire departments are catching it."
There are a number of counties in our area under burn bans. Chatham says to remember this the next time you are burning.
"You are liable for your fire. If a fire escapes your control and gets onto someone else's property, you can and should be held liable for whatever is destroyed."