Brush fires show need for care

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

As temperatures rise this summer, fire and forestry officials say it is good to be careful when burning garbage and brush.
Volunteer firemen in Lee County fought several brush fires this week and at least one was the result of unattended trash burning.
Union Fire Chief Craig Pettigrew, whose firefighters fought a brush fire along Highway 6 near Nettleton for the better part of two days, said it is important to notify officials before you burn.
Anyone doing agriculture or forestry-related burns is required to get a permit from the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
“(A permit) doesn’t make it legal for a fire to get out, but it allows us to give you the weather parameters,” said Assistant District Forester Stacy Lewis. “It also allows us to note on a map where that burn is.”
Burning permits are free.
Lewis said during the summer they only issue a few permits per week but in the winter they could issue up to 30 per day.
Pettigrew said even if you don’t need a forestry permit, it’s a good idea to notify the local fire department or 911 dispatch office. Guntown Fire Chief David Wood agreed.
“Call 911 and tell them if you’re going to burn something,” Wood said, “Fire departments respond to a bunch of controlled burns.”
Wood’s firemen put out a blaze that started when an unattended trash fire spread to a shed Wednesday.
Notifying 911 lets the fire departments know which burns are controlled and which ones are legitimate brush or forest fires.
Lewis said to stay safe no matter how big the burn is.
“The main thing – never leave your fire unattended,” he stressed. “From the time you light it until it’s out. Keep a water supply handy in case it escapes, and don’t burn on windy days.”
Wood said to be mindful of the conditions of the surrounding brush, and don’t burn if it’s too dry or windy.
The forestry commission responded to two brush fires alongside Lee County volunteer firefighters this week. They were called in to plow the brush down around the fire, setting up a containment area.
Pettigrew said while the fire along Highway 6 is under control and put out, it will continue to smolder and smoke until it rains.
For a burn permit in Northeast Mississippi, call (800) 681-8760.
jb.clark@journalinc.com