Wildfire ignites debate over burn ban - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Wildfire ignites debate over burn ban

RANKIN COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Crews returned on Monday to the scene of a wildfire that had already consumed more than 170 acres since Sunday night. Many of those same firefighters had spent all night battling those flames and making a fire line to contain it.

Though the cause remains under investigation, emergency operations officials say the dry conditions likely caused the blaze off Ridgeway Road to intensify.

Rankin County stands as the only county without a burn ban in place. Both Madison and Hinds counties already have done so. 

Rankin County Board of Supervisors President Jared Morrison said it's a decision that can't be taken lightly, though.

He said a burn ban would impact the county economically.

"You build new roads. They're gonna burn debris. Anything where they're doing some clearing, they're gonna have to burn debris. Well, that just kills all that," Morrison said.

Some firefighters we talked to who came back to put out the flames again Monday say the county needs one.

"It could have been someone with a burn pile that a burn ban would have stopped, or it could have just been someone errantly throwing a cigarette out that a burn ban would not have stopped," emergency management specialist Brian Grantham said.

If those conditions get worse, Morrison said they can get a burn ban passed immediately with supervisors voting over the phone if need be.

In the meantime, Grantham and others will do what they can to assist others as these fires continue to pop up.

"What we hope to be able to do is to use our drone to get up in the sky and monitor those fire lanes to make sure the fire's not jumping those fire lanes," said Grantham.

The Rankin County Emergency Operations Center has a $1,500 drone that will soon be at its disposal, once the Federal Aviation Administration approves its use.

"It'll be used for missing persons -- search and rescue for missing people, and recently we've thought about using it to survey natural disaster-type damage such as tornadoes or grass, wood fires, things like that," added Grantham.

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