Forest Fires Take Their Toll

More than 1,000 acres of forest have burned in Jackson County since the weekend, authorities say. The latest fires occurred on Monday in Escatawpa and the Three Rivers community, burning a total of 450 acres. Both fires were contained by Monday night. There have been 10 fires in the county since Saturday, authorities said.

Firefighters do not know how most of the blazes started, although they say low relative humidity and strong winds this weekend helped the fires spread rapidly. The Escatawpa fire came within 50 feet of Janet Jamison's home. ``We were feeling the heat on the windows of the trailer,'' said Jamison. The Three Rivers fire near Wolf Ridge Road was first started on Sunday by a couple burning leaves. It appeared to have been put out, but high winds rekindled the fire Monday morning, said Buck Allen, a firefighter with the Three Rivers Volunteer Fire Department. ``It was one hot fire, with 80-, 90-, 100-foot flames,'' Allen said. The fire ``jumped a 150-foot pond and went to the other side and there was nothing we could do at that point.''

There were 33 fires in Mississippi's southern 11 counties on Sunday, said Andy Fillingame of the Mississippi Forestry Commission's Southeast Division in Wiggins. ``For this time of year, that's a little above average,'' Fillingame said.