Officials wary of arson, wildfires

According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission, nearly 70 wildfires have burned in our area this month.

Almost 50 of those have been caused by arson. Debris burning is the cause of about 20 other fires. Forestry commission officials say March is typically the month with the highest number of fires, mainly because of strong winds and low humidity.

No burn bans are currently in effect for our area, but the commission is urging everyone to use extreme caution when burning and to actually avoid burning completely if possible. According to officials, the area has suffered fewer fires so far this year than in 2006 and 2007.

"We're not seeing as many fires as we've seen in the past couple years and they're not quite as large as what we've seen in past years," said Todd Matthews with the Mississippi Forestry Commission. "But, you don't need a large fire to threaten several homes."

Wildfires have burned over 2,000 acres this month. Forestry commission officials say investigations are underway in several arson cases.

To report any information concerning arson fires in your area, call 1-800-240-5161.