City and county issue burn bans, fireworks OK for now

Published 1:03 am Saturday, June 30, 2012

City and county officials have issued a burn ban for Vicksburg and Warren County, but stopped short of banning the sale of fireworks.

The Vicksburg Fire Department issued the ban inside the city limits due to dry conditions, fire investigator Leslie J. Sanders said. Warren County emergency management director John Elfer said the Warren County Board of Supervisors issued the countywide burn ban early Friday afternoon and will ratify it when the board meets Monday.

Both bans will remain in effect until further notice.

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“We encourage residents to burn nothing,” Sanders said.

No ban has been placed on fireworks or outdoor grills, and residents are urged to use extreme caution when using fireworks on July 4.

According to records from the Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s reporting system, fire departments across the state in 2011 responded to 48 fires started by fireworks from July 1 to July 10, Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal Mike Chaney said.

As of Friday, 10 counties and several cities had burn bans in place, and many had prohibited the use of fireworks, according to Chaney’s office.

The burn bans came in the wake of a National Weather Service heat advisory warning for Central Mississippi for the weekend, with heat indexes ranging from 102 to 107 degrees. The extended forecast from the National Weather Service Office in Jackson predicts temperatures in the upper 90s to 100 through Wednesday.

According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission, the drought index for most of the state is currently above 700 on a scale of 0-800, with 800 being the driest. The Forestry Commission predicts the state will hit the 800 mark next week, making conditions extremely favorable for outside fires.