Helicopters carry water baskets to fight a wildfire in Beauregard Parish. (Screen capture from KPLC-TV)
State agency leaders stressed Wednesday that all Louisiana residents adhere to a strict statewide burn ban to reduce the chance of wildfires. Emergency responders have been called out to extinguish multiple fires that have ignited in the extremely hot and dry conditions that have persisted over the summer.
The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has activated its State Emergency Operations Center to more readily respond to local firefighting needs, especially in rural areas more prone to wildfires and those with water limitations.
“Wildfires in Beauregard Parish have grown tremendously over the past 24 hours,” GOHSEP director Casey Tingle said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “Emergency officials have ordered evacuations near Merryville and a significant area has been impacted. Hundreds of other fires have been reported across the state over the past several weeks.”
Tingle described conditions as “historically dry” and said the threat of fire will increase in windy weather.
Our news partners at KPLC-TV in Lake Charles report a mandatory evacuation order has been lifted for residents along Louisiana Highway 110 west of Merryville. A voluntary evacuation order remains in place down the highway in the community of Singer at the intersection of state Highway 27.
An estimated 10,000 to 12,000 acres have been impacted in the Beauregard Parish fires since Monday, according to Tingle, with flames reaching 300 feet high overnight.
GOHSEP has received reports of fires across the state, including as recently as Wednesday afternoon, Tingle said.
“There doesn’t appear to be any guaranteed relief in sight when you look at the forecast,” he said.
Our news partners at KALB-TV in Alexandria reported road closures near Pollock in response to a wildfire, one of three active fires in Grant Parish.
— KALB News Channel 5 (@KALBtv5) August 23, 2023
The Louisiana Fire Marshal and state transportation advise motorists to take steps to reduce the risk of starting roadside fires. In addition to proper disposal of cigarettes, vehicles should secure towing and safety chains they use and avoid pulling over in areas with tall grass. Worn brakes have the potential to create sparks that could cause a fire.
An Aug. 11 grass fire in the Interstate 10 median just past the Mississippi state line caused an extended road closure that impacted motorists traveling to and from Louisiana.
This article will continue to be updated with breaking news.
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