Forestry officials advise care when burning

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – March was a bad month for burning brush in Mississippi with lots of wind and plenty of dry foliage.
More than 300 fires burned about 9,000 acres in Mississippi last month, according to Russell Boseman, Director of Forest Protection and Information for the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Boseman said as people begin to burn this spring they need to be aware of the weather and check for burn bans.
“The number one cause for wildfires is debris burning,” he said. “Someone will start a fire, leave it unattended and it will move to some brush, tall grass or woods nearby.”
The Mississippi Forestry Commission has a hotline, 1-800-681-8760, where anyone wanting to burn can check the fire weather – to make sure conditions aren’t too dry or windy – and find out if a burn ban has been issued in their county.
The hotline can also be called for burn permits.
Burn permits from the Forestry Commission are required for anyone performing a prescribed burn on a wooded area.
Anyone wanting to burn a brush pile on their property can do so without a permit, but Boseman said a call to the hotline is still a good idea.
“You need to be smart,” Boseman said. “Don’t burn near other flammable substances. If there is tall grass, knock it down around where you’re going to burn. The biggest thing is to not burn on windy days.”
Firefighters were dispatched to 60 grass and wildfires between March and May in 2012 according to Lee County Communications. They responded to 34 in March of 2013.
Conditions in March are good for wildfires and as April rains wet the vegetation and plants and grass turn green, fires won’t spread as quickly, but Boseman said burners still need to be responsible.
“People are (liable) for your fires, the flame and the smoke,” Boseman said. “If your smoke causes problems, you’re liable for that. If it drifts on to the highway, it is still your liability.”
jb.clark@Journalinc.com