Mississippi Forestry Commission battles nearly 90 brush fires in one day

FULTON, Miss. (WCBI) – As of Wednesday, Mississippi is no longer under the Red Flag Warning for significant fire danger.

But there were still plenty of brush fires popping up all over the Magnolia State.

Tuesday morning, Jordan Hankins says he was trying to stage a 5-acre controlled burn on his 1,800-acre property in Fulton.

“Gust of wind took it and…” he said, trailing off and shaking his head.

The blaze soon became a wildfire. Hankins says he and a group of friends tried to fight the fire themselves.

“We fought it last night until about 8 o’clock, and it looked like it was dying down,” he says. “So we thought it would die out.”

The fire on Hankins’ property would burn for more than 24 hours. He estimates it consumed at least 100 acres of land during that time.

Wednesday morning, Hankins called in the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

“Main objective was to try to cut off the head fire from getting into the small pine plantation,” says Michael Hughey, the forester for Itawamba, Monroe and Chickasaw counties. “Then we’re going to start working the west flank and then back down the east flank.”

In the last 24 hours, the Mississippi Forestry Commission says they’ve responded to 88 fires covering nearly 5,000 acres across the state.

“You can see the winds are gusting today, probably 15 to 20 miles an hour,” Hughey says. “Just prime conditions for a wildfire.”

Hughey says the Fulton fire is the fifth one he’s responded to since the Red Flag Warning was initially issued earlier in the week.

“With the right amount of equipment, it’s not very hard, it just takes a lot of manpower and a lot of personnel,” he says. “We’re just fortunate for the volunteer fire departments in most cases because they do help us out a lot.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Hughey said they had the fire in Fulton about 85 percent contained. But their job doesn’t stop there.

“Making sure there’s no hot spots and making sure everything’s out before we leave the scene,” Hughey explained. “In some cases, we have left to go to other fires and it flares back up, and we’re out back on the same spot again.”

Double-checking those hotspots is exactly what Hughey did following his interview with WCBI.

“Headed to the east side, and then we’ll make our way to the south side to make sure everything is stable down there,” he said.

And then it’s off to another fire somewhere else.

The Mississippi Forestry Commission has a live map for residents to track and report any brush fires in the state.

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