Burn Bans remain as hunting season begins

Deer hunting season (gun with dog) begins November 19 in most parts of Mississippi.  People will be out in the woods this weekend in large numbers, and they will be looking for ways to keep warm. The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) would like to remind hunters that they should not use a wood-burning campfire, bonfire, fire pit, fire ring, burn barrel - anything with an open flame that produces an ember. A dry, windy, cold front is forecasted to move through the area this weekend. The wind will make wildfire spread more quickly than usual, increasing the risk of devastating wildfire occurrences.

“Don’t do any outdoor burning right now - wait until burn bans are lifted, and drought conditions improve. A small spark can become a large wildfire when conditions are dry and windy, as they will be this weekend," said Russell Bozeman, Assistant State Forester. "One less spark could mean one less wildfire. No campfire is worth putting people’s lives at risk.”

In Mississippi, 77 out of 82 counties remain under burn bans. The Governor's partial state level ban and all individual county bans remain in effect through the weekend. Areas experiencing drought conditions need several consecutive days of steady, appreciable rainfall to provide enough relief from the drought to declare it safe to lift any burn bans.

Since September 1, 2016, the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) responded to and suppressed 946 wildfires that burned 8,467 acres. During this time, 1,420 structures were threatened by wildfire activity and saved by MFC Wildland Firefighters. 58 structures were damaged or destroyed.

A burn ban means no outdoor burning of any kind.

Not Allowed are campfires, bonfires, fire pits, fire rings, burn barrels, debris burning, fireworks, field burning, cigarette ash, outdoor wood-burning heaters, outdoor wood-burning fireplaces - anything with an open flame that produces an ember. The wind can carry floating embers away from the original fire and start a new spot fire up to one-half mile away from the burning area.

Allowed are Propane/ gas grills, propane/ gas heaters and charcoal grills. Propane/ gas grills, propane/ gas heaters, and charcoal grills should be utilized as described by their manufacturer’s instructions, located safely away from combustible materials, and never left unattended.

Safety Tip: Charcoal grill briquettes can be dangerous if they are not disposed of properly after use. Always let the coals cool completely and douse in water before disposing of them in a metal container. The residual ash should be cold to the touch before disposal. The MFC has responded to wildfires in the past that were started by improperly disposing of charcoal grill ash.

Fines/ Violations: Any person who knowingly and willfully violates a burning ban is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined not less than $100 and not more than $500.  Fines are enforced by the local Sheriff’s Department in that county.  In addition, anyone that sets a fire is responsible for that fire and the smoke generated by that fire. If a fire escapes and burns or damages the land/ property of another, the person that set the fire is liable for those damages.

Governor’s Burn Ban: Governor Phil Bryant issued a partial state level burn ban on October 11th, which included 52 counties. The 52 counties listed have no exemptions and will be in effect until lifted by the Governor: Adams, Alcorn, Amite, Attala, Benton, Bolivar, Carroll, Clay, Chicksaw, Choctaw, Coahoma, Desoto, Grenada, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Itawamba, Lafayette, Lauderdale, Leake, Lee, Leflore, Lowndes, Madison, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Panola, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Tishomingo, Tunica, Union, Warren, Washington, Webster, Winston, Yalobusha and Yazoo.

County Board of Supervisor’s Burn Bans: 25 additional counties are under burn bans issued by their County Board of Supervisors and approved by the Mississippi Forestry Commission: Calhoun, Claiborne, Clarke, Copiah, Covington, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Jasper, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Kemper, Lamar, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pearl River, Perry, Pike, Simpson, Smith, Walthall and Wayne.

Help prevent destructive wildfires:

• Before doing any outdoor burning, find out if there is a burn ban in your area. For a complete list of burn bans, visit: www.mfc.ms.gov/burn-bans

• Check the local weather forecast – don’t burn on dry, windy days. The wind carries embers long distances, which can cause spot fires as far away as one-half mile from the burning area.

• To report a wildfire, dial 911 or call the Central Dispatch Center for your area, visit: www.mfc.ms.gov/wildfire-report

Nationwide, nine out of ten wildfires are human-caused and could have been prevented with proper care. Please do your part to help prevent wildfire activity by checking burn bans and weather conditions before doing any outdoor burning. One less spark - one less wildfire.