MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Conditions outside are becoming more favorable for wildfire. This means a spark could get out of control if caution is not used. In this breakdown we explain why burn bans are issued and what it means for each state in the Mid-South.
The region as of late has dealt with dry conditions. As we transition from summer to fall, dry vegetation and low humidity can increase wildfire activity across the Mid-South. Wildfires can spark and spread quickly and would endanger forestland, homes and people’s lives.
When a burn ban is issued it means that no outside burning of any kind is allowed until the ban is lifted. Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas all issue burn bans in the event conditions warrant and each have their own penalties for violating the ban.
In Arkansas a burn ban prohibits anyone in the county from openly burning waste like dried leaves or other brush. Farmers are exempt, but anyone caught illegally burning could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. The offense is punishable by a one-year jail sentence or $2,500 fine.
Meanwhile in Mississippi, any person who knowingly and willfully violates a burning ban is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be fined not less than $00 and not more than $500. Section 49-19-351 of MS Code of 1972, as amended.
In the Magnolia State, fines are enforced by the local sheriff’s department. Additionally, anyone that sets a fire is responsible for that fire and the smoke generated by that fire. If a fire escapes and burns or damages the lands/property of another, the person that set that fire is liable for those damages.
Here in Tennessee burn bans are issued for counties, but they also issue the requirement for a permit to burn as well, this is done for any open air fire within 500 feet of a forest, grassland or woodland.
In the Volunteer State, if a burn ban issued by a county a violation of that ban issued by the Commissioner is considered reckless burning and is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor which carries a fine of $2,500 and/or up to 11 months, 29 days in jail.
Keep it with the WMC Action news 5 First Alert Weather Team for the latest on the weather conditions and current burn bans by county in each state.