|Caleb Worrell, Jones County Fire Council
JONES COUNTY, Miss. - As Mississippi is placed into varying degrees of drought, and overly dry conditions continue to sweep the area, Jones County, among many other counties across the state, is under a burn ban until further notice. The burn ban has slightly reduced the number of calls volunteer fire departments are receiving for out-of-control brush fires, but has certainly not eliminated them.
On Saturday, October 29, Soso Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to a large out-of-control woods fire, spreading dangerously close to homes and consuming several acres of land. With various pockets of fast-moving fire spread throughout the forested area, firefighters were unable to control the blaze by themselves, requiring the assistance of the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Smoke from the fire in Soso could be seen for miles, some people even stating that they could see the smoke rising in the distance as far away as Laurel. Vegetation and ground debris is so dry at this time that even heat from a car muffler or a spark from a power tool can start a large out-of-control fire. Not only is performing outside burns illegal due to the burn ban, it is also advised and requested by volunteer fire departments and emergency personnel alike that anyone planning to perform an outside burn refrain from doing so until the burn ban is lifted, and, currently, there is no time-frame for when that will happen.
Conditions in the area are ripe for any sort of outside fire to quickly get out of control and spread faster than one might consider. Recently, a man was killed in Montgomery County when a fire that he had set on his land got out of control. He attempted to extinguish the blaze but unfortunately, due the extreme dry conditions and unfavorable winds experienced lately, he was overcome and killed by the fire.
Not only are the lives of individuals that ignite the fires put in danger, but the lives of neighbors and emergency response agencies are also at great risk.
Jones County Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna states, "There is a Burn Ban. You cannot conduct any outside burning until further notice."