A fire two miles from the Gulf Coast burned approximately 1,700 acres in southern Mississippi northwest of Gulfport. Reported at noon on Sunday April 26, the Tillman Road Fire stretches for about 2.5 miles from 11th Street north to Interstate 10 where Monday night firefighters ignited a backfire to stop it from crossing the six-lane highway west of the Canal Street off-ramp.
The Gulf Coast was in a drought situation with high winds and low relative humidity at the time and the fire was in a hard to reach area for the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) tractor plow units due to canals and creeks. In his size-up MFC Incident Commander Sam Morgan estimated it at 100 acres. Roads, dozer lines, canals, and creeks were used to prepare for burnout operations. Crews fought well into the early morning hours Monday to try to contain the blaze, reaching 20 percent containment.
On Monday morning, the MFC Pilot in the agency’s Cessna estimated the size at about 300 acres. Then the fire made a big push with strong southerly winds that led to several evacuations and road closures in the area. Emergency responders fought hard to protect lives during this period of peak fire activity. As the RH rose at dusk, firefighters used burnout operations to contain sections of the fire. With crews working well into the night again, the burnouts were completed putting the fire at about 1,500 acres with 80 percent containment.
Tuesday brought slightly more favorable fire weather conditions, allowing crews to keep the fire boxed in. With some interior burning, the wildfire had blackened 1,700 acres by Tuesday night.
Wednesday brought about one inch of rain in the area allowing the fire to be declared contained and controlled. It is now being monitored for re-burns.
Approximately 25-30 MFC wildland firefighters responded to the Tillman Road Fire along with 14 tractor plow units during the four day duration of the fire. MFC’s Cessna and a Harrison County Sheriff’s Department helicopter assisted firefighters on the ground by providing eyes in the sky and monitoring the spread.
Jason Scott, the Director of Information and Outreach for the MFC said 106 residences and 7 commercial structures were threatened and saved. One outbuilding and an RV were destroyed.
Pat Sullivan of Harrison County Fire reported that the number of resources on the fire exceeded 200 with close to 80 pieces of equipment, from small drones to large structure fire engines, representing at least 15 agencies and organizations.
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