Firefighters battle hot spots in Gautier wildfire

Published: Jun. 27, 2011 at 9:12 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 27, 2011 at 11:59 PM CDT
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GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Firefighters spent the day Monday working to keep a Gautier wildfire contained.

The blaze burned more than 325 acres and threatened homes in the Ocean Estates subdivision, off Old Spanish Trail. The wildfire began just before noon on Sunday and spread quickly to the north, jumping over Old Spanish Trail and then crossing Highway 90.

Gautier fire investigators believe a person started this fire, whether intentionally or accidentally, we don't yet know. This much is clear: The woods remain tinder box dry and the fire danger is very high.

"There were homes threatened. However, we did not ask for evacuation notices," said Gautier Deputy Fire Chief Charles Thornburg. "We did protect the homes and we had enough resources between the county and the city and the City of Ocean Springs to protect the homes as the fire came up."

Still smoking hot spots were the main areas of concern one day after the wildfire began.

The flames left a fingerprint along the shoulder of Highway 90.  Fire crews were successful in keeping the blaze from reaching I-10.

Randy Wilson with the Mississippi Forestry Commission said Monday the fire was 95 percent contained.

"We're working right now to widen the fire lanes to make sure no embers get across," Wilson said. "We're working on hot spots as well, just to make sure it stays within our containment lines at this time."

"We're patrolling the fire lines hourly and we're trying to keep the fire contained where it's at until it burns out. People can expect there's going to be smoldering for two to three days, so smoke is going to exist," said Deputy Chief Thornburg.

Firefighters say the tinder box conditions allowed this wildfire to move very quickly.  It burned through several hundred acres and crossed two major roadways in a short period of time.

"This illustrates the purpose of those burn bans and also the tight parameters a lot of the boards of supervisors have put on fireworks this year," Wilson explained.

The forestry commission's Wilson said much of Jackson County remains extremely dry. Under the drought index they use, that area scores a 700. And the highest number on that scale is 800.

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