March is wildfire prevention month and more wildfires are caused by human activity than anything else.
March also has one of the highest wildfire occurrence rates of the year because of the transition in weather from winter to spring. In just the last two months the Mississippi Forestry Commission has responded to and put out 491 wildfires.
9,422 acres of land were destroyed in those fires but 1,072 homes were saved. Unfortunately two lives were lost in relation to the fires.
“Nationwide, 9 out of 10 wildfires are human-caused, which means 9 out of 10 wildfires could have been prevented with proper care. Wildfire prevention month allows us to highlight the responsibility of Mississippi’s citizens to help protect lives, homes, and forestland by focusing on how to prevent wildfires,” said Charlie Morgan, State forester.
Here are a few tips to remember to help prevent wildfires:
- Check the local weather forecast – do not engage in any outdoor burning on dry, windy days.
- If the purpose of the burn is agriculture or forestry related, call the MFC Central Dispatch Center for your area to obtain a burning permit.
- Always find out if there is a burn ban in your area before doing any outdoor recreational burning. To see a list of burn bans, click here.
- Check local laws and city ordinances in your area to make sure outdoor recreational burning is allowed.
- Choose a safe burn site – the ground around the burn site should be surrounded by gravel or dirt and clear of vegetation that could catch fire (minimum of 10 feet in all directions).
- Only burn untreated wood debris (waste, plastic, rubber tires, and other manufactured products may not be burned). Click here to view the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality standards regarding outdoor burning.
- Keep campfires small and never leave an outdoor fire unattended.
- Always have water on hand to put out the fire and stay until it has been completely extinguished.
- When homes are near wooded areas, prescribed (or controlled) burning can be utilized responsibly by a Certified Burn Manager to reduce fuel for wildfires. Prescribed burning clears underbrush and other flammable vegetation that builds up on the forest floor. A burning permit from the MFC is required for this activity. To learn more about becoming a Certified Burn Manager, click here.
- Make Firewise preparations to help defend your home in the event of a wildfire. The Firewise program equips homeowners and community leaders with the information they need to help design, construct, landscape, and maintain homes and communities to better withstand wildfires.
- To learn more about how to have a Firewise home, click here.
To report a wildfire, dial 911 or call the Central Dispatch Center for your area:
- Northwest Region: 1-877-226-5414
- Northeast Region: 1-800-681-8760
- Southwest Region: 1-888-823-3473
- South Central Region: 1-800-736-9115
- Southeast Region: 1-800-240-5161
The State of Mississippi benefits from forestry, which contributes $12.79 billion to the state’s economy, over $20 million (on average) toward education through School Trust Land timber sale revenue, and employs almost 70,000 people.
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