Warren County joins others, bans outdoor burning

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 25, 2000

Warren County has joined the City of Vicksburg and 11 other counties in restricting outdoor burning because the lack of rain has left grass, brush and trees so dry they ignite with the slightest spark.

County Fire Coordinator Kelly Worthy said his office received permission from the Mississippi Forestry Commission Thursday to initiate a ban on outdoor burning in the county.

“This goes into effect right now and is effective until further notice,” he said.

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Other counties that have banned outdoor burning are Webster, Covington, Leake, Jasper, Carroll, Montgomery Lowndes, Adams, DeSoto, Choctaw and Oktibbeha.

The Forestry Commission said the 500 fires reported this year in Mississippi is, twice the normal number.

Under a new state law that went into effect this year, a local county coordinator can ask the board of supervisors to write the forestry commission for permission for a countywide ban. The commission then must write a letter of permission, Worthy said.

Before the law took effect, only the governor could issue a ban and it had to be statewide.

“That was unfair because some counties could have gotten rain,” Worthy said.

The law allows only those counties that need to ban outdoor burning to do so.

“This makes it illegal to burn outdoors anywhere in the county,” Worthy said. “They can be fined up to $500.”

He said county firefighters won’t actually be looking for violators, but if they see someone burning in violation of the ban, firefighters can put the fire out without having to ask the landowner.

Vicksburg Fire Chief Kevin Westbrook took a similar action Aug. 17 and announced the city fire department would no longer issue permits for outdoor burning in the city. He also cited the drought as the reason.

City ordinances provide that a person caught burning without a permit could be fined $50 to $1,000.