At the request and advice of the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC), Gov. Tate Reeves has signed a proclamation initiating a statewide burn ban, with no exemptions, effective immediately. The burn ban will remain in effect until further notice.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant strain on Mississippi’s Emergency Medical Services professionals, particularly the state’s rural volunteer fire departments,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester.
Since March 1, MFC wildland firefighters have responded to and suppressed 189 wildfires that have burned approximately 4,259 acres across the state where 303 structures were threatened and saved. Additionally, MFC wildland firefighters have been assisted by volunteer fire departments on 557 additional outdoor fires.
“The current amount of wildfire is not normally a need for concern,” Bozeman said. “However, the smoke from these fires creates problems for anyone with respiratory issues and increases our firefighter’s chances of exposure when they respond.”
Additionally, the State Fire Marshal’s Office has received numerous calls from city and rural fire departments across Mississippi requesting a statewide burn ban. Rural communities rely heavily on volunteer fire departments for EMS services. Fire response in rural communities, along with increased EMS response, has put additional strain on these city and rural fire departments.
“This statewide burn ban will remove some fire response strain from city and rural volunteer fire departments, remove smoke from the air relieving those with respiratory issues, and allow our responders to focus more on EMS related services,” said Bozeman.
Under a statewide burn ban, outdoor burning of any kind is prohibited. There are no exemptions for agricultural or prescribed burns under this burn ban. Persons caught violating a burn ban can be fined, as well as be held responsible for any smoke or fire damage. Burn bans are enforced locally by the county sheriff’s department
To report a wildfire, call 911 or contact MFC’s Central Dispatch at 833-MFC-FIRE.