The Mississippi Forestry Commission is encouraging some people to set fires as long as they check with them first. Officials say they want to educate private owners about the right way to burn their land. They say calling before you burn can keep you from igniting a lot of problems later.
John Fallon of George County called and he got an evaluation on his 40 acres of land. The Forestry Commission told Fallon he should burn the debris and underbrush that taken over his land after 10 years of going unchecked.
"They just advise you and tell you know it needs to be burned," said Fallon. "If you asked them they'll come out here and look at it and tell you if it would help it or it wouldn't help it."
Marion Parker is an investigator for the Forestry Commission. He said "Our county foresters and air marshals will go out and look at the property and tell them what their needs are. If they are gonna do what they call a controlled burn, then they'll know pretty much why they're burning and not just going in there starting a fire and burning up some of their timberland."
Last year, the forestry commission gave private owners like Fallon the go ahead for controlled burns on 216,000 acres of land. Part of getting a permit depends on which way the wind's blowing.
"If they gonna burn their own property they need to know why they're burning it and how to go about burning it," said Parker. "The weather is one of the main factors that affects the burning condition and they need to know something about weather to be able to burn properly."
Not everyone calls first and burns later, but Parker says for their own good they should. He says knowing when is and when isn't a good time can help keep a controlled burn from getting out of control.
The Mississippi Forestry Commission say there are several advantages for private owners who conduct control burns. Officials say it can reduce the overgrowth that fuels forest fires, control disease and insects, and help beautify the property.