October 1, 2010 11:57:00 AM
No injuries were reported Thursday after a wildfire destroyed approximately 80 acres off John Starr Road in southwest Oktibbeha County.
Firefighters were dispatched at about 11:45 a.m. to a brush fire at 2030 John Starr Road. When firefighters arrived at the scene they discovered approximately 40 acres of pasture and forest already were on fire, Central Oktibbeha County Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bennett George said this morning.
"That alone is a very big fire for us around here," George said.
Firefighters immediately attacked the pasture fire to keep it away from two nearby houses and other structures, but quickly realized it was "too big for us to contain," George said. The Mississippi Forestry Commission was called in to help fight the fire in the woods, while volunteer fire departments from Sturgis and District 5/Oktoc also were dispatched to the scene.
With high winds and dry conditions, fire officials were concerned the blaze might spread to Craig Springs Road, where several houses are located, George said.
The Forestry Commission planned to use its bulldozer to plow a fire line around the blaze, but the bulldozer broke down and another was brought in, George said. Mississippi State University also provided a bulldozer since the wildfire was approaching the John W. Starr Memorial Forest, which is owned by Mississippi State.
It took firefighters and Forestry Commission workers approximately five hours to get the fire "under control" and plow a fire line around it, George said.
"In the end, the fire never did endanger any of those houses on Craig Springs Road," George said. "It was pretty well confined."
Neither of the two homes on John Starr Road were damaged either, he said.
George estimated about 80 acres were charred in the blaze. Investigators still are trying to determine a cause, he said.
While Thursday''s fire was large, it wasn''t the biggest in Oktibbeha County''s history, George said. He recalls a 250-acre fire in western Oktibbeha County within the past few years and said approximately 2,500 acres burned near Sturgis about 25 years ago.
No burn ban is in effect for Oktibbeha County, but George is urging home and property owners to refrain from burning until the area receives significant rain.
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