HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Winter, spring, summer and fall: One of those seasons brings firefighters out of their stations more often than the others. The typically dry months of fall open the doors to a fire department's busiest time of the year; wildfire season.
Coast fire officials say this wildfire season could be one of the worst ever.
It's mid afternoon, and firefighters are preparing to clean the water hoses they used just hours earlier to extinguish a small brush fire. The hoses will be washed down for reuse.
Firefighting equipment must be ready to go at all times during wildfire season.
"Right now, we're going into our fall season. It tends to be a dry season in Mississippi and a lot of high winds. Things are drying out. Normally this time of year, we start running multiple brush fires and grass fires," explained Chief Kim Jones.
Jones is in charge of the West Hancock Fire and Rescue in Pearlington. He says with very little rainfall so far this month, wildfire season is shaping up to be a hot one.
"300 to 400 percent will pick up in the next few weeks if we don't get some rain," said Jones.
"With the weather we've been having with no rain, we're expecting a busy fire season," said firefighter John Hairfield.
The firefighters say there are measures residents can take that could help the fire department reduce its wildfire runs this year.
"Keep your grass cut short around your structures to prevent a fire from spreading to other structures. Make sure you have the proper tools to take care of it; a rake, shovel, garden hose. A lot of people don't realize it, but it's illegal to burn household garbage," said Jones. "It's not pushed a lot, but if you burn garbage and it gets away from you, you could be in for some hefty fines. As far as burning debris, keep it manageable. Keep it where you can handle it. Instead of thinking you can, know you can, and make sure you stay with it. An unattended fire is also punishable by fines."
During last year's wildfire season, the West Hancock Fire and Rescue responded to more than 700 wood, brush and grass fires in the three month long season.
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