LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - After issuing several citations for burning, Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel urges residents to stop starting any kind of outdoor fire as long as the county is under a burn ban.
"We're going to aggressively enforce that ordinance because it's that serious," Rigel said. "I wish everybody would take it that serious."
Rigel said ignoring the burn ban puts unnecessary strain on fire departments.
"We're getting complaints from the fire service that they're having to go out on, for lack of a better term, frivolous fires that are caused by people just not paying attention or don't care," he said. "It taxes our firefighters. It puts them at risk. It also puts (at) risk structures, families. I think I read the other day where two people have lost their lives because dry conditions like that. The burn ban is a serious issue, and it's put into place because it is so dry out there."
According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission, Lamar County is under a burn ban "until further notice," and there are no exceptions to the ban.
"People say, 'Well, last week we had some rain, and that's probably lifted,'" Rigel said. "No, it didn't lift the burn ban. The next day, that water evaporated, and by the next day, it was just as dry as ever. People don't realize just by throwing a cigarette out the window of a passing car they can start a grass fire."
Rigel said he is getting lots of questions about what is and is not allowed during a burn ban.
"It basically covers outdoor burning," he said. "Trash piles, fire pits. Somebody asked me the other day 'Can I have a barbecue grill?' Yes. It doesn't prohibit that. You can have a gas grill or a propane grill. You can burn charcoal in a grill. It's the hardwoods and the logs you can't burn because they pop. Fireplaces are not precluded from this. You can have a fire in your fireplace in your house. It mainly just deals with outside burning. People just need to be responsible because it can get away from you so quick."
Here is the list of outdoor fires that are not allowed during a burn ban according to the Mississippi Forestry Commission:
- Fire pits
- Fire rings
- Burn barrels
- Debris burning
- Field burning
- Anything with an open flame that produces an ember.
"The wind can carry floating embers away from the original fire and start a spot fire up to one-half mile away from the burning area," the commission stated.
Rigel said there are a number of ways to report someone violating a burn ban, but it is his department who actually cites someone for burning.
"You can call our dispatch," he said. "You can call the sheriff's office. You can call the fire department. The sheriff's office is the one by statute that is charged with issuing the citations, but you can call anybody just to notify us. We'll go out and investigate it."