Fire officials warn citizens of the potential threat of wildfires

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Wildfires in the winter may be a rare event, but certain weather conditions can help ignite some of those infernos.

The threat of wildfires continues to rise, and several departments have been called to brush fires.

Fire officials said the issue is simple—burning fallen branches and leaves in dry weather isn’t the best idea, especially when there’s a little wind mixed in.

Firefighters are on heightened alert.

” Over the last few weeks, we’ve probably had over 60 acres burn just within our area,” said Hutto.

That may not seem like a large amount of land, but it’s enough to raise concerns.

Louisville Fire Chief Robert Hutto said the department has tended to several fires in the last few days.

” We had one night of 40 acres burn on one fire. Another night we had 10 acres burn. And then we’ve just a had a bunch of small fires,” said Hutto.

Firefighters responded to a blaze on Hwy 25, using up to 300 gallons of water.

And you’re probably wondering, how are fires spreading in cooler temperatures?

” It’s dry outside. There’s low humidity, and the grass is dry. And there hasn’t been any rain. The last few winters have been very wet. But this one has been pretty dry,” said Hutto.

Burning leaves, sticks, and pine straws are all contributing factors.

And putting out all those fires requires manpower, which can be hard to come by.

” We have two individuals on shift 24/7, but we have volunteers that also supplement our manpower. We rely on them heavily, but you never know how many individuals you’re going to get. It’s the same with any volunteer fire in the nation. You never know how many are available,” said Hutto.

When a blaze gets out of control, that’s where the Mississippi Forestry Commission steps in.

The commission brings bulldozers to cut fire lanes and stop the spread.
Hutto said the commission also conducts controlled burns to help lower the threat in wooded areas.

” It reduces the amount of fuel that is on the ground than the wood so, in the event of a wildfire that is out of control, it’s easier to get under control because there’s less fuel to burn,” said Hutto.

The City of Louisville has a burn ordinance in place.

Citizens are permitted to only burn natural vegetation within city limits.

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