Burn ban approved after week of fires

Published 7:39 am Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Mississippi Forestry Commission approved an emergency burn ban for Panola County late Monday at the request of the Board of Supervisors. 

A sharp increase in out-of-control grass fires last week prompted Emergency Management Operations director Daniel Cole to recommend the action to supervisors Monday morning at the Batesville Courthouse.

“Many people don’t take into consideration the role that wind and humidity plays in a fire spreading out of control,” Cole said. “What you think you have under control can get out of control super fast.”

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Over the weekend the Batesville Fire Department was called to assist volunteer departments in the Pleasant Grove area in northwest Panola when a grass fire spread across a field to several junk vehicles and an uninhabited structure.

Fire departments all over the county have been busy in recent days with similar calls – a small fire started for leaves or debris spreading beyond what homeowners could handle.

“Between the newspaper and radio station and social media we are trying to get the word across the county as quickly as possible,” Cole said. “It usually takes about a week before everyone gets the news about a burn ban and until then our fireman are going to have to stay ready to respond to these incidents.”

Cole asked for the burn ban to continue through March 7. Exemptions can be granted for MFC certified burn managers, and for agriculture fields, but general leaf and limb burning has been halted.

“Panola County has been under a red flag warning this week, and that’s not something most people think about this time of year, but it can make for dangerous situations,” Cole said.

Statewide, the MFC says the current dry and breezy weather conditions along with critically low relative humidity creates an increased risk for devastating wildland fires.

No outdoor burning of any kind is permitted during a burn ban. MFC will be continually monitoring conditions and updating the list of counties under a burn ban. To view the list and for more information on burn bans, visit mfc.ms.gov/burn-bans.

In addition to the statewide wildland fire risk and the burn bans issued, the U.S. National Weather Service had issued a Red Flag Warning for all counties in Mississippi until 6 pm Tuesday. That warning will be continued if conditions warrant.

 For updates on Red Flag Warnings, visit alerts.weather.gov.