Burn permits on hold

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 17, 2000

The Vicksburg Fire Department will issue no permits for outside burning because of hot, dry conditions, Chief Kevin Westbrook announced Wednesday.

The Vicksburg area has been without significant rainfall most of the year, and that has caused much of the vegetation to be extremely dry. Coupled with numerous days of temperatures of about 100 degrees, the weather was the prompt that caused Westbrook to suspend issuing of permits for burning, said Leslie Decareaux, a fire inspector and investigator.

She said no uncontrolled brush or grass fires have been reported.

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The ban, Decareaux said, covers all forms of outdoor burning, with the exception of outdoor grills.

“And even with that, be careful,” she said.

Decareaux said trash burned in barrels, as well as leaves, limbs and other debris burned in piles, will not be permitted.

She said the suspension will be in effect until further notice.

City ordinances provide for a fine of $50 to $1,000 if a person is convicted of burning without a permit.

National Weather Service records show the Vicksburg area has received 25.46 inches of rain this year and the average for the date is 34.92 inches.

Meanwhile, the City of Vicksburg is continuing its request that city water customers voluntarily cut back on water use because of problems at the water treatment plant.

Lamar Heffner, supervisor of the city water treatment plant, said work is continuing on the softening tanks at the plant and it will be from two to four weeks before the plant is back at full capacity.

The voluntary conservation request covers such uses of water as watering lawns and washing cars.

“If they would take shorter showers and fill the bath tub only half way instead of full, it would help,” Heffner said.

The City of Jackson is facing its own water shortages, but for a different reason than Vicksburg. The capital city’s pending shortage is being caused by low stages on the Barnett Reservoir and the Pearl River. Reports in the past few days indicate the reservoir is headed for a new record low for this time of year. Earlier this week, the reservoir had a level of just more than 295 feet mean sea level. The record low is just less than 294 feet.

Other streams and rivers in Mississippi are also at low levels, and the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks advised outdoors lovers to refrain from riding ATVs in stream beds.

Andrew Whitehurst, state scenic streams coordinator, issued the warning to ATV riders in a news release from the DWF&P this month.

He said riders could be cited by county law enforcement officers and conservation officers for trespass and they could be tried in local justice courts.

Also, Whitehurst said, “If a stream has been designated critical habitat for a listed or threatened species, citations may be issued under the Endangered Species Act. These cases are handled in federal district court.”

No bans on outside burning have been issued by Warren County or by the state.