Governor issues statewide burn ban

JACKSON — Gov. Haley Barbour on Wednesday issued a statewide burn ban as unusually dry weather continues to increase the risk of wildfires in Mississippi.

Barbour’s state of emergency prohibits all outdoor burning.

“Everyone across the state needs to take the threat of wildfire seriously,” Barbour said in a statement. “These dry conditions can cause fires to quickly spread out of control.”

The ban comes just one day after a wildfire in Madison County burned at least 560 acres and forced some residents to evacuate before firefighters brought it under control.

Dozens of fires have been reported throughout the state. Madison County alone has recorded more than 50 wildfires in a little more than a week.

A blaze in Newton and Lauderdale counties last week caused an estimated $1 million in damage to timber. Investigators believe that fire started from a burning bag of trash.

Butch Hammack, emergency management director for Madison County, said eight fire departments and crews from the Mississippi Forestry Commission fought the blaze Tuesday with flames reaching as high as 200 feet.

Fire trucks were stationed at structures such as area churches in case the flames headed their way.

No injuries were reported and no structures were damaged, a fact Camden Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tony Ace called “amazing,” given the magnitude of the blaze.

The cause is under investigation.

Some fires are caused by leaf burnings getting out of control because of the extremely dry conditions, some by rural residents burning their garbage and some by tossed cigarettes igniting the dried grass, Hammack said.

“I urge everyone to be mindful of how you dispose of flammable objects, such as cigarettes and matches, and to refrain from burning trash or leaves,” Barbour said.

The Associated Press