Rain drives out Hancock County wildfire

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The change in weather was perfect timing Tuesday for firefighters keeping an eye on the smoldering remains of the woods fire in west Hancock County.

At its peak, the fire brought I-10 traffic to a standstill for several hours Monday. Investigators blame carelessness and hot, humid conditions for starting and feeding the flames that burned 825 acres.

"This is one of the worst fires I've ever been on," West Hancock County Fire Chief Kim Jones said.

"We found the source south of the Interstate," said Michael Burks with the Mississippi Forestry Commission. "Somebody had driven up there and set a small fire. And what was just a really small fire, in a matter minutes, blew up into a real large fire."

But the rain stopped it from getting any bigger.

"Thank the Lord we got some rain," Burks said. "It was already a major fire in the making. If it would not have been for the rain, this would have been a catastrophe."

This fire is just a reminder of why the Mississippi Forestry Commission is putting emphasis on the fact that the burn bans are not to be taken lightly.

"Even this rain that we received here, a week from now, it will all be dried up and this will be ready to burn again. There are burn bans in the process so be mindful of that. If they are telling you not to do that, they are telling you not to go out a light a fire for a reason," Burks said.

And if you travel near mile marker nine on I-10, don't be surprised if you still see smoke. Firefighters expect the site to smolder for a while, but say it's 100 percent contained.

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