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30 of 82 MS Counties Issue Burn Ban, Lafayette Could be Next

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index has MS rated above 600, with parts of the state above 700.

As hot and dry weather conditions persist, 30 of Mississippi’s 82 counties under currently under a burn ban and Lafayette County will likely join them next week.

On Tuesday, the Mississippi Forestry Commission issued a statewide Wildland Fire Alert and is encouraging the public to postpone all burning activities until further notice.

Lafayette County Fire Coordinator Wes Anderson said that he will be asking the Board of Supervisors to issue a burn ban for the county at their next regular meeting on Oct. 7.

“At this time, we haven’t seen a major increase of wildfires,” Anderson said, adding that the burn ban is precautionary in hopes of avoiding wildfires.

Due to the current drought conditions and the predicted weather pattern for the next week, the fire danger rating for the state will remain extremely high.

“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.”

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. Lafayette County is in the 600 range.

The current KBDI rating for Mississippi indicates that 6 to 7 inches, or more, of rain needed to bring soil moisture levels back to normal.

These conditions, combined with the high winds and low humidity expected from the approaching dry cold fronts, create an increased risk for devastating wildland fires.

“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,” Bozeman said.

Hottytoddy.com news editor Alyssa Schnugg contributed to this report.

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