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Fire weather watch, burn bans in effect

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD/FILE 
 A wildfire rages in woods surrounding the Jackson County Animal Shelter just north of U.S. 90 in Gautier on Sunday, June 26 2011. Area firefighters are urging the public to not burn this weekend because weather conditions are conducive to wildfires.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD/FILE A wildfire rages in woods surrounding the Jackson County Animal Shelter just north of U.S. 90 in Gautier on Sunday, June 26 2011. Area firefighters are urging the public to not burn this weekend because weather conditions are conducive to wildfires. SUN HERALD

The National Weather Service has issued burn bans and a fire weather watch through Sunday for areas including several South Mississippi counties.

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The NWS and area fire officials are urging residents to not burn. Period.

"It's a red-flag condition," Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan said.

"When we have high winds, low humidity and dry conditions, even a small trash fire can get out of control and become a large fire," Sullivan said.

"Fire under these conditions can quickly get into woods or brush, threaten homes and create hazardous road conditions."

The NWS issued a fire weather watch Friday, saying dry vegetation, low humidity and increased north winds put affected areas at risk of a high fire danger. That includes Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Pearl River counties.

The fire weather watch includes a burn ban in those counties and in all Louisiana parishes.

The watch is expected to expire Sunday night.

North winds of 10 mph Friday are expected to increase to 15 mph Saturday.

Friday's humidity, between 25 to 35 percent, is expected to decrease slightly Saturday.

Strengthening winds over coastal waters also are likely to create hazardous conditions for small craft, the NWS said.

A wildfire Wednesday burned about 40 acres of woods in Jackson County.

Wildfires statewide burned at least 17,600 acres of land, destroyed 20 homes and threatened 1,384 homes in fiscal year 2013, according to the Mississippi Forestry Commission.

The actual numbers could be double that amount, the MFC report shows. Its numbers do not include fires handled by volunteer fire departments.

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