The Magnolia State is under a statewide burn ban, and no one is sure when the end date could be.
At the request and advice of the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC), Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday signed a proclamation initiating the statewide burn ban until further notice.
Greenville Fire Department Chief Fire Marshal Carl Nichols said even if a resident thinks their ground isn’t dry enough to be included in the burn ban, they still must comply with the notice.
“Even if they don’t think so, by it being signed by Phil Bryant, the governor, because of the dry conditions we’ve been having, they just can’t do it.”
After about a month of no significant rainfall, Nichols said it’s going to take more than a scattered storm to lift the ban.
According to David Cox, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, it’s unclear when Greenville will see any significant rain.
“We’re going to need quite a few inches to make a difference in this,” he said, noting the month of October is typically known for being the driest month of the year.
There’s some chance of rainfall Sunday evening and Monday morning, but Cox said he expects the front to bring about an inch of rain, at most.
“It’s not really going to be much of an event,” he said.
Looking further ahead, Cox said there might be another rain front moving into the region late next week, but it’s too early to know for certain.
MFC state forester Russell Bozeman said from Sept. 1–30, MFC wildland firefighters responded to and suppressed 239 wildfires that burned approximately 4,200 acres throughout the state, which has threatened hundreds of homes and buildings and destroyed seven.
“With the current drought conditions and little rainfall in the forecast, we appreciate Gov. Bryant implementing this statewide burn ban in order protect the public,” Bozeman said. “The MFC will continue to monitor conditions and provide the public with updates on the burn ban as needed.”
During the statewide burn ban, outdoor burning of any kind is prohibited, including campfires, bonfires, fire pits, fire rings, burn barrels, debris burning, fireworks and anything with an open flame that produces an ember. Wind can carry floating embers and start a spot fire of up to one-half mile away.
“It could take someone just smoking a cigarette and throw it out the car, and they don’t realize it could spark in somebody’s yard or somebody’s field,” Nichols said.
Anyone caught burning during the ban can face misdemeanor charges carrying a fine between $100-$500. Residents could potentially face jail time for failure to comply with the notice.
Residents can, however, use propane/gas grills, propane/gas heaters and charcoal grills.
“As long as you use precautions, you can still grill. Just make sure you cool your charcoal off with water before disposing of it, don’t just throw it out,” Nichols said.
If anyone has any other questions about the burn ban, Nichols said they can call him directly at 662-822-0360.
To report a wildfire, call 911 or contact MFC’s Central Dispatch at 877-632-3473.
To learn more about wildfire prevention, visit mfc.ms.gov, or like and follow @MSForestryComm on Facebook and Twitter.