Counties issue burn bans as dry conditions grip the state - - Jackson, MS

Counties issue burn bans as dry conditions grip the state

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

With wildfires raging in Arizona, Mississippi is keeping a close eye to make sure the Magnolia State doesn't become the next inferno, but if you ask the state Forestry Commission, the stage is already set for it to happen.

"It can turn ugly in a very short period of time," said Forest Protection and Information Manager Russell Bozeman.

Drought conditions are gripping parts of the Magnolia State and more than a dozen counties are putting burn bans into place stretching from the coast to central Mississippi. In the meantime, brush fires are popping up across the state.

"As dry as the vegetation is in these areas, the rate of spread is greatly increased. When you put wind to that, it'll travel yards in just a matter of minutes," said Bozeman.

There's also no relief in sight when looking to the sky.

"Rainfall has been averaging maybe 25 to 50 percent of normal for the year so far, so that's quite a deficit for our area," said National Weather Service Forecaster Ed Agre.

Agre says the last major rainfall in the state was about two months ago and that deficit is adding to concerns from the Forestry Commission since the number one cause of wildfires is human creation.

"Most of it is a lack of knowledge, not really paying attention to the surroundings. What goes from a small fire in your backyard, can go to 50 or 60 acres in just a couple of hours," said Bozeman.

The burn bans are put in place at the county level and as the dry conditions continue, more counties are expected to join the growing list.

"We do have dry spell but they usually don't start until August, so this one is starting a little bit sooner than normal," said Agre.

Anyone caught ignoring the bans in place could face a misdemeanor charge and be fined a hundred dollars. Penalties would increase if a wildfire results.

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