September 22, 2023

Some of y’all need another reminder not to set fires in Mississippi right now

Therese Apel

Mississippi Forestry Commission's drought monitor
A grass and woods fire on Shady Hill Drive in the Star community of Rankin County.

Stop setting things on fire. Seriously, stop.

This is a message your fire departments desperately want you to hear so they can actually eat an uninterrupted meal with their families.

That pile of tires will be there later. Those leaves are biodegradable. Those photos of the guy who just dumped you? That burn pile of trash? Get a garbage can.

It’s bad, y’all. You can grill, but that’s all. STOP BURNING THINGS, K?

(And as you read this article, please interpret both the bold and the caps as us raising our voice about this.)

Officials are saying the drought in Mississippi could continue as long as late November. It won’t get better out there until there’s enough rain to saturate the ground.

There’s this thing a lot of folks aren’t familiar with called the Keetch-Byram Drought Index. According to, it’s based on a daily water balance. The drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture and is measured in hundredths of an inch of soil moisture depletion. The index is based on a maximum storage capacity of eight assumed inches.

Officials say the KBDI index values are into the 700s right now for parts of South Mississippi, stretching up through Rankin County.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

Breaking that down, it means at least seven inches of rain are needed to soak the ground. There is rain predicted for the Metro area on Monday, but unless something unexpected happens, IT WILL NOT BE ENOUGH TO MAKE IT SAFE TO BURN THINGS OUTDOORS.

So let’s go over this again.

Anyone who knowingly and willfully violates a burning ban is guilty of a misdemeanor. These persons may receive a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500.

Hinds, Madison, and Rankin Counties are all under the ban until further notice, along with Clarke, Lauderdale, Yazoo, Warren, Claiborne, Wilkinson, Forrest, Lamar, Greene, George, Jackson, Harrison, Sharkey, Issaquena, Jefferson, Scott, Perry, Newton, Stone, Copiah, Pearl River, Wayne, Lincoln, Jones, Jasper, Franklin, Simpson, Pike, Hancock, Smith, Jefferson Davis, Adams, Marion, Covington, Walthall, Amite, and Lawrence Counties.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

Humphreys County’s ban ends on Sept. 25; Washington on Sept. 30; Attala on Oct. 1; Leake on Oct. 16; and Bolivar on Nov. 20.

What is Not Allowed During a Burn Ban

Anything with an open flame that produces an ember is not allowed during a burn ban. The wind can carry floating embers away from the original fire and start a spot fire up to one-half mile away from the burning area. This includes:

  • Campfires
  • Bonfires

    Photo by Landon Parenteau on Unsplash
  • Fire pits
  • Fire rings
  • Burn barrels
  • Debris burning
  • Field burning

What is Allowed During a Burn Ban

  • Propane/Gas grills
  • Propane/Gas heaters
  • Charcoal grills

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