Wildfire nightmare in Gautier, animals evacuated

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Firefighters rush to douse flames after a massive wildfire spread across a wooded area in Gautier Sunday afternoon. The State Forestry Commission said the fire is now 95 percent contained, and the flames have destroyed 325 acres of land.

Fire officials said the fire began South of U.S. Highway 90 near old Spanish Trail.  Then, the blaze quickly jumped to the North Eastside of the highway, near the Jackson County Soccer complex and the animal shelter. The heavy fire and smoke prompted the county to evacuate the animals from the shelter to a safer spot.

"We were really afraid early on because the fire was right across the parking lot; I mean it was leaping tree to tree and it was very real," Jackson County District Five Supervisor John McKay said. "We had firefighters watering down the building, trying to keep it cool and protect the animals."

Animal shelter workers moved fast to get nearly 200 dogs and cats out of smoky building nearby.

"The smoke is the biggest issue right now, and over a long time it can cause some respiratory problems with the animals," McKay said.

The animal shelter team is moving most of these four legged animals to smoke free county facilities in Ocean Springs and Vancleave. They said several other dogs and cats are going home with animal lovers for the night.

"I am going to take four, five or six if they allow me," Linda Root said.

When Root heard about the fire she had to give the dogs and cats a temporary place to stay. She said although this is a sacrifice, these animals need her right now.

Jackson County residents said they hate that the animals have to be moved around because of the heavy smoke and hot spots. They said they are just glad the animals are okay and hopefully can return to the shelter soon.

County officials are not sure how long the animals will have to stay in the temporary facilities, but they're encouraging people to provide a home for the displaced animals. Please call the shelter at (228) 497-6350 for more information.

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