Smoke closes section of Hwy 90 in Gautier Wednesday afternoon

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - A nearly four-mile stretch of Highway 90 in Jackson County was closed Wednesday because of a wildfire burning out of control. Officials had the blaze contained within two hours, but the smoke threatened the safety of road conditions.

"Well, I got worried," Ocean Springs resident Joanne Lyczkowski-Shultz.

"I can't even see all the way down 90 and I was kind of wondering what it was," Alec Melcher. "I figured it was a burn because just the way the smoke was, but I didn't know what it was. It was freaking me out."

Those concerns were valid and the reason police departments closed a portion of Highway 90 for hours, diverting traffic around the smoke.

"It started by covering Hwy 90 and visibility was zero trying to drive on Highway 90. And then we realized that the wind was actually pushing the fire closer to Highway 90 and we thought it was going to jump Highway 90," said Captain Jerry Cooksey with the Gautier Police Department.

Captain Cooksey said officials with the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge, Mississippi Forestry Commission, and Gautier Fire Departments were out fighting the fire, hoping to get it contained and reopen the road. It's an effort that took nearly two hours.

Captain Cooksey said when you mess with someone's daily commute at an already hectic hour, people get upset.

"You have to keep in mind people picking up children, picking up loved ones from work or what have you," said Captain Cooksey. "And, they're usually in a hurry when they get off."

That feeling was echoed by 18-year-old Alec Melcher.

"I'm ready to be home," said Melcher.

There was a controlled burn at the Sand Hill Crane Refuge Thursday afternoon, but officials there told WLOX News when the weather conditions changed, the burn was suspended.

Thursday, investigators will begin looking into what caused the fire.

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