UPDATE: Wildfires closing in on Merryville town limits
By Crystal Stevenson and Emily Burleigh
The Town of Merryville has been put under mandatory evacuation as the newly dubbed Tiger Island Wildfire is building in intensity.
The fire jumped Neale Oilfield Road and was burning northbound in the direction of La. 190 West Thursday night as buses were stationed at Merrvyville Town Hall for those who needed transportation out of town.
La. 389 and La. 110 have been closed.
A shelter has also been set up at First Methodist Church in DeRidder for fleeing families and feeding stations are open outside the Beauregard Baptist Association building.
The Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office said authorities are attempting to contain the fire but a storm with 30 mph winds is pushing the fire north.
The fire was reportedly two miles from the town just after 7:30 p.m.
“We are asking if you live in the areas of Junction/Red Hill/Nichols Sibley Road areas you should be prepared to evacuate if needed in the near future,” BPSO said in a Facebook post at 8 p.m. Thursday. “We suggest packing a bag and have necessary items to pick up and leave in a rush. Remain vigilant, please.”
The state has named the wildfire the Tiger Island Fire because it started near the Tiger Island Hunting Club. Local fire departments, volunteers and the National Guard have been battling the fire — which started Tuesday morning — from the air and ground. By Wednesday, the first mandatory evacuations went out for parts of Singer with Merryville initially under a voluntary evacuation order. That changed Thursday afternoon.
Record heat and drought are creating some of the worst fire conditions for the state since the turn of the century, according to the National Weather Service.
“This is rapidly becoming the biggest fire danger threat this area has had since the summer of 2000,” the agency warned. “Fires can spread rapidly in these conditions.”