Earlier this year we thought it would never stop raining, and here we are now a few months later wondering if it will ever start raining again. Dusty roads and fields and brown grass are the results of dry conditions. However, remember these conditions can also result in one, seemingly small, fire quickly getting out of control.

What is a burn ban?

A burn ban means no outdoor burning of any kind. They are usually announced on local news and radio stations, but you can always go to the Mississippi Forestry Commission’s website for a list of burn ban counties in our state. County burn bans are usually issued by the board of supervisors.

As of Sept. 27, there are burn bans in Adams, Copiah, Lauderdale, Lee, Lincoln, Clay, Franklin, Prentiss, Yazoo, Montgomery, Rankin and Tate counties, Starkville, West Point, Pontotoc and Louisville.

During a burn ban...

• Not allowed: Campfires, bonfires, fire pits, fire rings, burn barrels, debris burning, field burning – anything with an open flame that produces an ember.

• Usually Allowed: Propane/gas grills, propane/gas heaters, and charcoal grills are allowed under burn bans.

Is a permit needed to burn?

If you live within the city limits, a burn permit is usually needed for almost any type of fire outside. Call your local city hall or fire department for guidance on what exactly is required and to avoid fines.

Permits are also required for any fire set for a recognized agricultural or forestry purpose. These are issued by the Mississippi Forestry Commission and based on the daily fire weather forecast. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

• Type of burning (agriculture or forestry)

• Number of acres

• Forestry purpose (hazard reduction, control undesirable species, control disease, site prep, wildlife mangement or other)

• Landowner name and person responsible for fire

• Address and telephone number

• Location of property (40, section, township and range)

• Beginning / end date and time of fire.

Important steps to help maintain control of fires:

1. Check the conditions. Don’t burn when windy or vegetation is dry.

2. Look up. Choose a safe burning spot away from powerlines, overhanging limbs and buildings. You’ll need at least three times the height of the pile of vertical clearance.

3. Look around. The burn site should be surrounded by gravel or dirt of at least 10 ft. in all directions. Keep the surrounding watered down and have a shovel close by.

4. Prepare your pile. Keep it manageable. Add additional debris as the fire burns down.

5. Stay with the fire until it is completely out. Drown the fire with water, turn over the ashes and repeat to ensure it’s put out completely.

Leslie Woolington is an assistant risk management/loss control manager with the Mississippi State Extension Service.

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