Throughout Mississippi, drought conditions are increasing the risk of wildfires.
“There is very little moisture in the soil and wildfire risk. The winds are picking up, the humidity levels are going down, and we have very, very high risk for wildfire. One spark is all it takes,” said Meacham Harlow, with the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Although the coastal counties are currently the lone exception to the statewide burn ban, resident must use extreme caution when burning materials outdoors.
“What we see is that people burn and don't take into consideration the winds, or there's no winds at that particular moment, and then they pick up and get out of control. And they travel so quickly in these type of winds,” said Harrison County fire chief, Pat Sullivan.
Over the past two months, the state forestry commission responded to 732 wildfires across Mississippi, fires which burned more than 6,500 acres. Some 1,100 structures were threatened by the fires, 38 destroyed.
“Even if you're not under the burn ban, it's so dry right now that honestly, if you light a fire, there's a very, very good chance that the fire is going to get out of control,” said Harlow.
Chief Sullivan says if the dry conditions continue, it’s likely that Harrison and the other coastal counties would adopt burn bans also.
“We've had to go out and protect several homes at one time because the fire spread across a field so large that we didn't just have one house, we had several houses involved,” said Sullivan.