PEARL RIVER COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Nearly 50 wildfires in the last five days. Firefighting teams from the Mississippi Forestry Commission are certainly keeping busy during these dangerous drought conditions.
The governor enacted a statewide burn ban Tuesday night because of the extremely dry conditions. Wildfires in the 10 county southeast region of the forestry commission have scorched more than 2500 acres the past five days.
"With no rain that we've had, it's real dry.The conditions are real bad," said forestry firefighting crew member, Anthony Johnson, "So, they're starting to get really intense. We're having to watch 'em close."
Forestry crews checked for hot spots Wednesday morning in a scorched section of woods off Jess Williams Road in Pearl River County.
"It was close to 400 acres. We was in Stone County fighting a fire, finishing it up, when we got the call on this one to help out with Pearl River County," said Johnson.
They faced an inferno when the blaze advanced through these woods. Dry conditions provided plenty of fuel for the wildfire to spread.
"Once we got all the roads and the plowed lines tied in with the blacktop roads, then we started backfiring on it to keep it contained in," Johnson recalled.
More than 24 hours later, crews walk the woods, making certain the fire doesn't re-ignite.
"Checking for hot spots. Making sure our lines are secure. With this intense weather we're having with the humidity low and the winds, we're just going to make sure it's not going to blow over our lines," said Johnson.
It's more than just a little dry in the woods across Mississippi. Veteran firefighters say we're approaching near record levels for the drought and dry conditions this time of year.
"If we don't get some significant rain, we're going to start breaking records that are 35 and 40 year records," said Joe Miles with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, "I think we've had over 2500 acres over the last five days that we've lost. So that's a pretty significant number for right now."
The forest firefighters are happy to see the statewide burn ban and are hopeful folks recognize the danger and will obey it.
"Outdoor burning is prohibited. That will be enforced by the sheriff of each county. We have our own law enforcement that will be aiding in that too," said Miles.
Arson is to blame for many of the wildfires. Forestry officials urge anyone with any information about a fire to report it. You could be eligible for a reward up to $2500. The toll free number to call is 1-800-240-5161.