Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Fire crews battle brush fires as arctic air moves in

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Nearly 40 fires have been recorded in Webster Parish since January 1, though a burn ban has yet to be issued by the parish or state.

Fires have been scattered from the north to the south end of the parish and are mostly the result of controlled burns not staying that way due to wind, Webster communications Lt. Mandy Wedgeworth said.

Of the 38 fires so far this year, six were reported within just four hours on Saturday.

"The wind is the main thing," Minden Fire Chief Kip Mourad said. "It dries the grass and weeds out, and if there is a fire, it spreads quicker."
The Webster Parish Police Jury is responsible for calling a burn ban, and will normally do such upon recommendation from the office of homeland security.

Mourad and police jury president Jim Bonsall were unaware if there has been any discussion of such.

"There is a small chance of rain the next few days," Webster Director of Homeland Security John Stanley said. "If we don't get any, we'll poll the fire chiefs again and see what they want to do."

The State Fire Marshal's Office stopped short Tuesday of issuing a burn ban. However, State Fire Marshal Butch Browning recommends residents delay burning until there has been a significant increase in rainfall.

Louisiana has seen an excessive number of out-of-control brush fires related to trash and debris, Browning said in a statement. Those fires have also damaged or destroyed structures.

The National Weather Service issued a fire danger statement Tuesday, which is normal when winds are at least 25 miles per hour with less than 25 percent humidity, NWS meteorologist Patrick Ohmundson said.

"They (fire danger statements) are more common in summer, but there's more wind in winter," Ohmundson said. "It balances out."


A second blast of arctic air is poised to strike the Ark-La-Tex tonight sending temperatures to below freezing through the weekend.

The low tonight will hover around the 30-degree mark and highs Thursday won't get much warmer. Wind chill readings could be as cold as single digits, according to the National Weather Service.

"That air slides down, comes around the top of that ridge over the western states and spills in from Canada," Ohmundson said. "We're kind of locked into that pattern – we get a warm spell then one front after another."

Overnight temperatures Thursday and Friday will be in the low to mid-20s. Daytime temperatures will warm to the 50s and low 60s over the weekend.

Monday night could get as cold as the low 20s.

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