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Wildfire ravages 200 acres

September 30, 2010

Central Oktibbeha volunteer firefighter Brian Evans, his fire flapper handy, watches for flareups

Flames from a Thursday afternoon wildfire ravaged dozens of acres of rolling pasture and woodlands near the Craig Springs community in south Oktibbeha County.
The cause of the fire, which threatened at least two homes, remains under investigation, said Bennet George, chief of the Central Oktibbeha County Volunteer Fire Department, which, along with the Sturgis/District 4 Volunteer Fire Department, responded to the blaze.
The fire was reported to E-911 operators about 11:45 a.m. Thursday, and volunteer firefighters were dispatched minutes later, George said.
The fire started in a pasture to the east of two homes on the east end of John Star Road, which is accessed by taking Craig Springs Road west from Highway 25 South to Silver Ridge Road and then heading north on Silver Ridge before turning east onto John Star.
“A good 40 acres was on fire when we got here,” said George shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday.
“The wind has been driving the fire south, and we have had trucks and water in place along Craig Springs Road to protect homes in that area if it moved that far.”
With flames spread over such a wide area, firefighters have had to use water sparingly to contain the blaze and use “fire flappers to beat down flames in grass and keep them from spreading further.
Mississippi Forestry Commission fire crews also had multiple bulldozers and other tractors at the scene to plow break lines to contain the fire.
“Luckily, the ground is dry enough and hard enough that we’ve been able to get fire trucks and bulldozers into the area without too much problem,” George said.
Between the volunteer firefighters’ and Forestry Commission crews’ efforts, the blaze was contained between 3 and 3:30 p.m., but both spent several hours extinguishing hot spots and working to prevent other flare-ups.
The dry ground and windy conditions Thursday afternoon played a role in how quick the fire spread, George said.
“This is a major fire,” said George, who estimated that 200 acres or more of pasture and woodland had burned.
Flames spread dangerously close to a heavily wooded forest on the north end of the wildfire, as well as to one of the John Star Road homes near where blaze was initially reported, but volunteer firefighters kept the blaze from reaching the home.
Multiple water transfer runs were made by the volunteer firefighters to ensure an adequate water supply was present to contain the blaze.
As Central and Sturgis volunteer firefighters were battling the Craig Springs wildfire, District 5/Oktoc volunteer firefighters had to contend with one off Robinson Road in southeast Oktibbeha County.
Information about that fire could not be obtained by press time Thursday. No injuries were reported.

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