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Volunteer FD Exhausted After Extreme Amount of Fires

Laurel Leader-Call

June 01, 2011

LAUREL — Jones County’s volunteer fire departments responded to 51 calls ranging from brush and structure fires to medical emergencies during the Memorial Day weekend.

“That’s an extremely high number of incidents for this time frame,” said Jones County Fire Council Public Information Officer Lance Chancellor. “Volunteer firefighters responded to 15 woods or brush fires, four structure fires, 25 medical first responders calls, and seven other miscellaneous calls that included vehicle fires and wrecks.”

At one point Monday, Chancellor said 14 of the 19 fire departments that make up the Jones County Fire Council were out on fire call simultaneously.

“One of those was the fire on Bogue Homa Estates Road where a man received serious burns while trying to battle a brush fire,” said Chancellor. "He and another gentlemen were battling the blaze when he tripped over a log and fell backwards into the fire.

“He received burns over 25 percent of his body and was transported to South Central Regional Medical Center. He was later transported to the burn center in Brandon where his condition is unknown at this point.”

Chancellor noted that Jones County is currently under a burn advisory, meaning conditions are favorable for rapid fire spread due to a lack of rainfall and high temperatures.

“It’s just dry,” he said. "In these brush fires, grass that appeared to be green was very dry and was burning at a rapid pace.

“A fire in the Currie Community burned about 15 acres and a brush fire on Cottage View burned between 15 to 20 acres.”

Chancellor added that a brush fire on Highway 15 North, near the Jasper County line, closed the highway for a while Monday due to heavy smoke.

If weather conditions don’t improve soon, Jones County officials may ban all outdoor burning. Jones County Fire Coordinator Dan McKenna and the Jones County Board of Supervisors will see if any major precipitation occurs within the next few days. If not, chances are a burn ban will be issued.

“Conditions are perilous,” said Chancellor. “Temperatures are expected to range from 95 to 100 degrees in the next few days; there is a minimum chance of measurable or sufficient rainfall.”

Jones County residents are encouraged to refrain from burning until the area receives a substantial amount of rainfall. If by chance, a brush fire occurs in your area, Chancellor said the best thing to do is call 911.

“We had folks to try to put out fires with water hoses and the fire just out past them,” he said. “Don’t try to put out these fires on your own, call for people who are trained to do this. We don’t want to see any additional burn injuries.”

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