Meridian Enacts Burn Ban

Due to high winds and dry conditions, the Meridian Fire Department is asking the public to discontinue burning.

The fire department will not issue any burn permits until conditions improve.

The burn permits that have already been issued are still valid at this time but authorities say all permit holders should refrain from burning trash or debris until the ban is lifted.

The fire department will issue a notice when it is safe to resume permitted burning.

"Humidity's low. Wind has been very high and we just thought that the conditions were favorable to go ahead, take action and issue a burn ban," said fire safety educator, Jimmy Hoffer.

With continued high winds and dry conditions fire department officials say the threat for wildfires is high.

March is the most common month for wildfires in Mississippi. In fact, there were more than 1,200 wildfires in Mississippi in March 2007. That number is down drastically so far this month, with less than 150 reported from Mar. 1-15.

Although the number of wildfires is down, once one occurs it can leave its mark in more ways than one.

"One little spark and we could lose a neighborhood," said Hoffer. "So, that's how tragic it is. I mean, look back at the California fires, supposedly started with maybe a cigarette or maybe a match or a lighter, and later hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed."

Out west is not the only place where this can happen. Just this week one vehicle was destroyed in a wildfire in the Whynot community.

With one spark able to start a wildfire in the blink of an eye, officials with the Meridian Fire Department say that even people who were previously issued burn permits cannot burn, at least for now. Anyone who tried it will pay a price.

"There is a possibility that you could be fined. It could be $50. It could be $100," Hoffer said.

For now a burn ban is in effect within the city of Meridian. It could be in place for days or weeks, depending on conditions.

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