U.S. Forest Service stressing wildfire prevention - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

U.S. Forest Service stressing wildfire prevention

It was 2007 when the forest service last dispatched a wildfire prevention team to Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX) It was 2007 when the forest service last dispatched a wildfire prevention team to Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX)
The U.S. Forest Service team is spreading the word about preventing wildfires. (Photo source: WLOX) The U.S. Forest Service team is spreading the word about preventing wildfires. (Photo source: WLOX)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

Wildfire danger across Mississippi remains very high. Because of the dry conditions and drought, the U.S. Forest Service is focused on fire prevention.

That’s why a special team is traveling the state, educating residents about wildfire prevention.

The U.S. Forest Service team is spreading the word about preventing wildfires. They spent Tuesday making stops in the De Soto National Forest.

“Trying to educate folks in the State of Mississippi by distributing a wildfire prevention message. Focusing on things like equipment caused fires and debris burns. The State of Mississippi is extremely dry right now,” said team member Mark Thibideau.

“There's definitely plenty of fuels around. Anything that has not been logged or cleared up or had a prescribed burn to clean it up in the recent past will have plenty of fuel to carry a wildfire,” said Rebecca Goosman with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

It was 2007 when the forest service last dispatched a wildfire prevention team to Mississippi. Like then, drought conditions right now are severe and fire danger is high.

Wildfire prevention is more than just common sense. It can also save money. If the education can prevent just one wildfire, then the forest service won't have to pay for foresters and equipment to respond to that fire.

“Every fire that we prevent, we're exposing firefighters to less risk. There's a three-to-one cost savings when it comes to committing funds to fire prevention rather than suppression,” said Zachary Ellinger, with the Federal Bureau of Land Management.

Even though this week's rainfall is welcome, it will take more than a day of showers to ease the drought conditions and fire danger.

“By tomorrow, the sun comes out, and it will be just as dry as it was last week. So, they really have to be careful about anything they do, even if they're not in a burn ban,” said Goosman.

More than 90 percent of wildfires in Mississippi are caused by people.

Seventy six of the 82 counties in Mississippi currently have burn bans in place. The coastal counties are among the few exceptions where a burn ban is not currently in effect.

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