WATER VALLEY – Grass and brush fires have been an almost daily occurrence for Yalobusha County firefighters during March.
There have been 12 brush fires county-wide since the beginning of the month, according to Velma Fire Chief Herbie Rogers, who keeps fire records for the county.
At presstime Tuesday night, county firefighters were battling yet another brush fire on County Road 216 near Oakland.
Forestry Commission firefighters were also called to the scene.
Most of the fires have been small and brought under control quickly. However, a few have caused property damage.
Just this past weekend a mobile home on County Road 94 was destroyed by a blaze that began as a grass fire. Earlier in the month the same thing happened to a house on County Road 220.
“Normally March is a really bad month for fires,” said Jimmy Mordica, Director of Public Outreach for the Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Forestry officials say a lot of rain is needed to offset extremely dry conditions. The state began 2008 with a 12-inch rainfall deficit from calendar year 2007.
Even though it is spring and things are starting to turn green, most of the forest fuel and the litter on the ground are still dead, Mordica said. Combine that with low humidity and the March winds and you have the ingredients for wildfires.
Water Valley Fire Chief Mike Defer agreed and added, “Historically March and April are a busy time for grass fires and brush fires.”
Defer said that his department was called out Sunday to a brush fire on Corps of Engineers property near Wildcat Break. The Corps asked Water Valley to stand by since the fire may have been posing a threat to homes in the area.
Both Mordica and Defer noted that it is spring clean-up time and people are out burning debris. Statistically, most grass and brush fires are started by human activities.
Mordica said that the Mississippi Forestry Commission wants you to think twice before doing any outdoor burning.
Defer recommended the use of common sense when burning and said, “Be careful, remember how dry it is and don’t burn until the wind dies down.”
“It will start greening up as we get into April. Pecan trees are about the last thing to green up,” Mordica added, “The old-timers used to say that when the pecan trees leaf out, fire season is over.”