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Controlled Burn May Have Ended Gulfport Fire

The Sun Herald

May 23, 2011

GULFPORT, Miss. — A brush fire that kept reigniting for two days along Duckworth Road may have come to an end, Fire Chief Mike Beyerstedt said.

The Mississippi Forestry Commission conducted a back-burn along the roadside Friday afternoon, leaving little or no dry vegetation left to catch fire.

The brush fire started Thursday on the south side of Duckworth between U.S. 49 and the Tara Hills subdivision. The fire kept reigniting as the wind blew embers and ultimately burned about 100 acres.

Two homes were in danger, Beyerstedt said. Fire vehicles parked near the homes to help protect them from the blaze.

Forestry personnel brought in heavy equipment to create fire breaks, but the flames at times jumped the breaks. Firefighters got the fire under control and used a creek on the east side as a stop-gap, but the brush reignited before dawn Friday and kept firefighters busy until about 2 p.m.

Late Friday afternoon, forestry personnel began controlled burns along the road to reduce the fuel load of dry brush and dead trees.

A south wind swept smoke across the road, requiring police to close the road for about 40 minutes.

Residents said they could smell smoke inside their homes even though their windows were closed.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Beyerstedt said it’s likely the fire was first started by two juveniles who had been seen in the area.

Duckworth is north of O’Neal Road in Orange Grove.