Gov. Tate Reeves signs statewide burn ban amid COVID-19 crisis

Gov. Tate Reeves signs statewide burn ban amid COVID-19 crisis
The burn ban is in effect immediately. (Source: Gray Tv)

JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - Gov. Tate Reeves signed a statewide burn ban Thursday at the recommendation of the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

The ban is in effect immediately and will remain in effect until further notice. The goal of the ban is to relieve the burden on emergency personnel in the state during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put significant strain on Mississippi’s Emergency Medical Services professionals, particularly the state’s rural volunteer fire departments,” said Russell Bozeman, MFC state forester in a news release.

The MFC said since March 1, wildland firefighters have responded to and suppressed to 189 wildfires that have burned approximately 4,259 acres across the state, threatening 303 structures that were saved. Volunteer firegfighters have also assisted MFC wildland firefighters on 557 additional outdoor fires.

“The current amount of wildfire is not normally a need for concern,” Bozeman said. “However, the smoke from these fires creates problems for anyone with respiratory issues and increases our firefighter’s chances of exposure when they respond.”

According to the MFC, the State Fire Marshal’s Office received numerous calls from city and rural fire departments requesting a statewide burn ban. Rural communities rely heavily on volunteer fire departments for EMS services, and responding to fires along with increased EMS response has put additional strain on these city and rural fire departments.

“This statewide burn ban will remove some fire response strain from city and rural volunteer fire departments, remove smoke from the air relieving those with respiratory issues, and allow our responders to focus more on EMS related services,” said Bozeman.

Outdoor burning of any kind is prohibited under the ban, and there are no exemptions for agricultural or prescribed burns.

Violating the burn ban can result in a fine, as well as being held responsible for any smoke or fire damage. Burn bans will be enforced by county sheriff’s departments.

To report a wildfire, call 911 or contact MFC’s Central Dispatch at 833-MFC-FIRE.

For additional information, visit mfc.ms.gov and like and follow @MSForestryComm on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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