Fighting fire with fire: Hancock County wildfire close to being out

Updated: Mar. 25, 2019 at 10:07 PM CDT
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HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Firefighters are confident they a wildfire that’s been burning for three days in Hancock County will soon be out. In the meantime, they are fighting fire with fire to extinguish the flames.

It’s going to be awhile before it’s all the way out but officials say the fire is under control.

“It’s going to be a very slow process,” explained Meacham Harlow with the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

After weighing the options, authorities decided that back-burning would be the best way.

The way the back burn works is pretty simple. All of this area that’s been turned to ash, the back burn has eaten it up. So, once it moves further into the wooded area, it’s going to join the main fire that’s been burning for three days. And once those two fires join and there’s nothing left to fuel the flames, they are going to cancel each other out.

The direction the wind is blowing will help to push the back burn deeper into the forest, and the timing couldn’t be better.

“(Tuesday) the wind is not going to be in our favor,” said Harlow.

The back burn line sits directly behind the Shady Acres RV park. People living there say they were shocked to see flames that close to their homes.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen this in my life. I’ve been here for 15 years,” said resident Harold Sarpy.

Firefighters said there was no need to make people leave the park, just for them to keep an eye on the embers.

“They told me to hose my area down and put water on top of my trailer, to keep everything moist and wet so if it does come,” Sarpy said.

The county jail is in the line of fire, too. But Sheriff Ricky Adam says he has been doing his part all weekend to keep the flames at bay.

“We’ve had our inmates going around the fence cutting all the debris back away from the fence,” Sheriff Adam explained.

Now firefighters have to wait it out until the smoke clears.

“It’s going to be a while before it’s eventually all the way out,” said Harlow.

The Mississippi Forestry Commission says it does not know what caused the fire. However, after arson, burning debris is the second most common cause of wildfire in the state.

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