Evacuations ordered, no homes damaged in Jackson County fire

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The woods fire that consumed about 1,000 acres in Jackson County, came close to claiming several homes.

"I was out in the yard shooting basketball with my son.  All the sudden we hear a boom, and look and notice smoke start coming this way. People were frantic. Some were spraying down their yards, and next thing you know it's going to be a mandatory evacuation or go on your own," said Jackson County resident Jerry Ladnier.

Black smoke enveloped a red sun over Jackson County, as residents sat by watching flames progress over the area.

"Neighbors noticed it and told me about it, and we called the fire department and it just continued to grow and grow. The wind kicked it up. The wind just shifted constantly, right left, right left," said another resident John McDonald.

Several neighborhoods along Ocean Springs Road were evacuated by fire fighters and authorities.  At the Sunplex Center off Highway 57, ambulances were lined up to move residents of the Sunplex Rehabilitation Nursing Home.

"The first priority, especially with the smoke situation with the fire is the repertory patients, being sure that they get transferred the hospital. We obtain physician orders for that. And, to take the most critical first and then we work on our bed bound residents that cannot transport via wheel chair, "explained nursing home administrator April Eppstein Powell.

With flames just a few hundred yards away, nursing home officials worked calmly, but quickly.  They say despite the tense atmosphere, everything happened smoothly.

"We respond very well in an emergency situation because we do disaster drills very frequently at the facility level. So right now, everybody is calm but expedient in their actions," said Powell.

All 59 patients and their records are being moved to facilities in Biloxi and Pascagoula.

Officials report that no homes were damaged by the fire.

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