Fire officials plead, "Don't burn"

Officials believe a weekend fire in Ocean Springs may have been started by a person.
Officials believe a weekend fire in Ocean Springs may have been started by a person.

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Most South Mississippi counties are under a burn ban, and with good reason.

"Burn bans are very important. As you've seen this weekend with the massive fire that they had in Jackson County, the evacuations of homes, the evacuation of the nursing home, the interruption of traffic on the highways, it all results because of these fires," said Harrison County Fire Marshal Pat Sullivan.

When fires do break out, the dry conditions throughout South Mississippi make it easy for fires to spread. Wildfires are not only dangerous, but they drain resources for fire services.

"We had to call in almost another shift, to help out there, plus, make sure we had the city covered for any other cause that we did have," said Ocean Springs Fire Chief Jeffery Ponson.

While the Jackson County fire is still under investigation, it appears to have been started by human hands. Officials say the huge flames that spread through parts of the county can begin as a small spark.

"It don't take much. Just somebody throwing a cigarette out of a window could start something like that," said Ponson.

Officials say each county sets the terms of its burn ban.

"What people need to do is check with their local authorities. They can check with their local fire department. They can check with their local police department, sheriff's department. Those folks will know what you can what you can't.  Good rule of thumb right now, is don't burn. Absolutely don't burn," said Sullivan.

Many officials say they are concerned how the drought could affect Fourth of July celebrations, if conditions do not change.

"We certainly don't want to put a damper on the Fourth of July celebrations, but at the same time, we can't not have the destruction and interruption of life," said Sullivan.

The counties currently under burn bans are Jackson, Harrison, Hancock, Stone, George, and Greene.

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