Wildfires keep coast firefighters hopping

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Cold isn't the only weather problem we're dealing with in South Mississippi. The dry and windy days are a recipe for fire danger. Blazes like the one firefighters battled Tuesday night off Cuevas Town Road in North Hancock County are becoming common.

Since the beginning of the year, the State Forestry Commission says 115 wildfires have charred more than a thousand acres. Forest rangers and firefighters from two volunteer departments battled flames into the early morning hours, and were back out there Wednesday morning.

"Due to the low relative humidity and due to some frost and high winds lately, the wildfires are definitely picking up," said Forest Ranger Eric Gonyea.

Rangers returned to the woods fire off of Cuevas Town Road Wednesday morning to put out a rekindle. It's one of several wildfires they've had to battle.

"Just yesterday in the southeast district, we had 22 fires with a total of 450 acres burned," explained Gonyea.

Firefighters from West Hancock County spent Wednesday morning cleaning the dirt off of hoses they used to battle a brush fire on Bayou LaCroix Road Tuesday night.

"Many of the departments have been running two and three calls at a time," said Chief Kim Jones with the West Hancock Fire Department.

The additional runs can be taxing on fire departments.

Jones said, "It's tough on our budgets, the budgets are already strapped with fuel."

Chief Jones has some advise for residents that could be helpful in reducing the number of wildfires.

"The main thing is to keep the vegetation close to your house cut short. If you are doing burning, make sure you have a water hose with you and that you've got a good clear area around it. And on these windy days, what we call red-flag days, you shouldn't even consider it."

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