Red Flag Warning in seven states, Feb. 14

Wildfire in Mississippi burned more than 1,000 acres

Red Flag Warnings, Feb. 14, 2022 fire wildfire
Red Flag Warnings issued by the NWS, Feb. 14, 2022.

The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for Monday February 14 for areas in New Mexico, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.

It is not common to see Red Flag Warnings in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi. Take a look at the video below  posted today of a fire in northeast Mississippi that burned 1,041 acres; it’s a very interesting burn pattern.

I checked with Tyler Thomas who is an Area Forester for the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) who told us the fire occurred January 31 and February 1. In addition to the personnel from local fire departments, the MFC had five firefighters on it which included two dozers with swampers. When they arrived it had already burned about 1,000 acres and when the spread was stopped it was about three miles long.

I mentioned to Mr. Thomas what looked like in the aircraft video an unusual burn pattern, but he said it was all one fire and there was no major spotting out ahead of the main fire.

UPDATE Feb 19, 2022: The map below shows the estimated perimeter of the fire in NE Mississippi, based on imagery. The fire was named, 1686 County Road 202 Fire.

Fire in NE Mississippi
Fire in NE Mississippi, estimated perimeter Feb. 1, 2022.

US Forest Service firefighter dies in off-duty accident in Mississippi

The Associated Press is reporting that a wildland firefighter died Wednesday night in Mississippi.

Evan Batson, 34, worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado on the San Juan National Forest’s Columbine Wildland Fire Module. The crew was on an assignment in Mississippi assisting with prescribed fires.

Mr. Batson and his co-workers had gone to dinner in Natchez. They were walking to a casino when he jumped a fence to take a shortcut from the top of a bluff to a grassy area, but he jumped too far. Natchez Police Department Cmdr. Scott Frye said the drop was about 100 feet down.

His co-workers, some of whom are EMTs, administered first aid along with the Natchez Fire Department.

“There was no motor vehicle access where he was,” Police Chief Joseph Daughtry said.

Later Mr. Batson was pronounced dead.

“His death occurred outside of work hours and is still under investigation,” said Lawrence Lujan, a spokesman for the US Forest Service. “Evan worked on the Payette, Medicine Bow-Routt, Manti La Sal, and San Juan National Forests as a career wildland firefighter during his tenure. We share this profound loss with Evan’s family, friends, and crew members and hold them in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

From the USFS website:

“The Columbine Wildland Fire Module (WFM) is a ten-person crew based out of the Columbine Ranger District of the San Juan National Forest. Columbine WFM is a resource that responds to fires locally, regionally, and nationally, and provides self-sufficient, highly skilled fire professionals to assist with wildland and prescribed fire operations, fire behavior and fire effects monitoring, hazard fuels reduction, and a range of other fire and resource related missions. Columbine has existed as an “initial attack” module since the early 2000s. With support from Forest Leadership working to expand the San Juan National Forest’s managed and prescribed fire programs, Columbine was reborn as a Wildland Fire Module in 2013.”

Columbine Wildland Fire Module
File photo of the Columbine Wildland Fire Module. USFS photo.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Batson’s family, friends, and co-workers.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mike and Scott.

Heavy Equipment Academy completed in Mississippi

A week-long class aimed at training forest rangers and technicians to use heavy equipment to fight wildfires

Dozer plow line
Still image from MFC video.

Earlier this month 16 employees from the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) took part in the agency’s Heavy Equipment Academy (HEA).

“Training is a huge part of what we do at the Mississippi Forestry Commission,” said Russell Bozeman, Mississippi State Forester. “Responding to wildfires is dangerous and the Heavy Equipment Academy gives our employees the real-world training they need to safely and effectively suppress wildfires in the state.”

During the HEA, students participate in two days of classroom instruction followed by three days of field work at the MFC’s HEA training site in Raymond. Students learned how to properly plow a firelane with a bulldozer, how to use a bulldozer to shape slopes, and how to properly “recover” a bulldozer that gets bogged down in mud.

“This real-world training gives our employees the experience and confidence they need to perform their wildfire suppression duties when called upon,” Mr. Bozeman said.

From the Mississippi Forestry Commission

Tillman Road Fire burns 1,700 acres in south Mississippi

The fire was about two miles northwest of Gulfport

Wildfire Harrison County Mississippi
Wildfire in Harrison County Mississippi, April 27, 2020. Photo by Mississippi Forestry Commission.

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.

Wildfire Harrison County Mississippi
Wildfire in Harrison County Mississippi. Photo by Mississippi Forestry Commission.

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.

Wildfire Harrison County Mississippi
Wildfire in Harrison County Mississippi, April 26, 2020. Photo by Mississippi Forestry Commission.

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.

Wildfire Harrison County Mississippi
Wildfire in Harrison County Mississippi, April 26, 2020. Photo by Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Wildfire Harrison County Mississippi
Wildfire in Harrison County Mississippi, April 26, 2020. Photo by Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Wildfire Harrison County Mississippi
Wildfire in Harrison County Mississippi, April 27, 2020. Photo by Mississippi Forestry Commission.
Wildfire Harrison County Mississippi map
Wildfire in Harrison County Mississippi. Map by Mississippi Forestry Commission.

If you have trouble viewing the video below, you can also see it at YouTube.

Meet the Jackson Hotshots

Jackson Hotshots
Darren O’loughlin, Superintendent, Jackson Interagency Hotshot Crew. Screenshot from the video below.

The Jackson Interagency Hotshot Crew is the only Bureau of Land Management Hotshot Crew east of the Mississippi River. Formed in 1997, the crew has fought wildfires from Alaska to Florida. They have been called upon to assist with numerous national emergencies, including Ground Zero after 9/11 and search and recovery operations from the Space Shuttle Columbia. The Hotshots were also involved in recovery efforts following several devastating hurricanes, including Katrina, Rita and Sandy. They are based in Jackson, Mississippi.

The crew is supported by Historically Black Colleges and Universities as well as the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters Foundation. The Jackson Hotshots are also committed to working with veterans and veteran organizations such as Team Rubicon.

Two Hollows Fire burns over 2,000 acres in south Mississippi

Mississippi Fire Feb 28 2020 MFC photo
Two Hollows Fire Feb. 29, 2020. MFC photo.

The Two Hollows Fire burned about 2,200 acres of industrial timber land in Pearl River County, Mississippi, approximately nine miles southeast of Poplarville. Jason Scott of the Mississippi Forestry Commission said 22 homes and 18 outbuildings were threatened but all were saved. The MFC responded with  19 employees, one fixed wing aircraft, seven bulldozers, and one drone. Multiple VFDs also responded with six engines and one water tender.

The fire was reported Saturday night, February 28. It took 12 hours to contain, and the Mississippi Forestry Commission monitored the fire for an additional 48 hours.

Two Hollows Fire
Two Hollows Fire Feb. 29, 2020. MFC photo.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Mississippi Fire Feb 29 2020 MFC photo
Two Hollows Fire Feb. 29, 2020. MFC photo.

If you are having trouble playing the video below, you can view it at YouTube.