MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Outdoor burning is being discouraged in Mississippi. The Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) issued a statewide Wildland Fire Alert on Tuesday.
That means the MFC is asking people to postpone all burning activities until further notice. Drought conditions, the predicted weather pattern for the next week and the fire danger rating for the state are contributing to this request.
“There is a cool front expected to move through portions of the state later this week,” said MFC State Forester Russell Bozeman. “This front could bring lower humidity and wind, elements that can encourage wildfire growth.”
While it may be hot and humid now, in the coming days the threat for wildfires will actually increase due to the weather pattern shift. After the cold front passes through on Monday of next week, a north wind, that will be a dry wind, will lower humidity levels across parts of the state to levels not seen since last April.
According to the MFC, the state has experienced little to no rainfall over the past several weeks. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a scale designed for fire potential assessment, has the state rated above 600, with parts of the state above 700. The current KBDI rating for Mississippi indicates that six to seven inches, or more, of rain will be needed to bring soil moisture levels back to normal.
As of now, South Mississippi is only forecast to receive less than an inch of rain during the first two weeks of October.
“There are currently 30 of Mississippi’s 82 counties under a burn ban, and we expect this list to continue to grow,” Bozeman said. “We are asking Mississippians to use caution when doing outdoor activities, and to not do any outdoor burning.”
With deer season opening today and more people in the forests across the state, the MFC encourages caution around ignition sources, such as discarding cigarette butts and parking vehicles over dry grass.
“Under the current conditions, it only takes one spark or ember to start a devastating wildfire,” said Bozeman.
A list of counties currently under a burn ban can be found HERE. If you spot a wildfire, report it immediately by calling 911 and MFC Dispatch at 1-877-632-3473.