UPDATE: Multiple fires lead to parish burn ban

Published 7:48 pm Monday, February 26, 2024

Due to high winds and dry conditions, the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury has issued a burn ban for all of Calcasieu Parish.

The proclamation, signed by Police Jury President Anthony Bartie, prohibits all outdoor private burning of any kind but doesn’t include prescribed burns, and gives Calcasieu Parish Fire Departments the authority to extinguish all fires that are in violation of the ban and residents may face penalties.

Unattended and out-of-control fires spread quickly throughout Calcasieu and Beauregard parishes this weekend. Ward 6 Fire Chief Todd Parker said firefighters, mostly volunteers, responded to 26 calls in and out of district, beginning at 3 p.m. Friday through 3 a.m. Monday morning.

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No residences were involved, but the fire did destroy some abandoned structures, Parker said. “Yes, we have had rain. The dirt is wet.” The grass is dry.” Parker said north winds, some up to 15 miles per hour combined with low humidity, is helping dry out the fuel – dead grass and other vegetation from the summer drought.

“In some places we were fighting fires and making sure our vehicles didn’t get bogged down in the mud,” Parker said.

Parker took a moment to express his appreciation to volunteer firefighters who make up most of the department, but now that the weekend is over, they’re back at their paying jobs.

“We were stretched very thin this weekend, and we are exhausted. If we get a call today only four or five volunteers would be available to respond. If we don’t have the resources….”

Parker said at one point this weekend, every firefighter in Beauregard and Calcasieu Parish was working a fire, that’s a total of 13 fire departments.

Firefighters are busiest in winter. In Southwest Louisiana, February is typically busy because of folks eager to get the yard, pastures and gardens ready for spring planting. He urges caution, even waiting until cool fonts, winds and low humidity conditions are over.

“Winds are going to be 15 to 25 mph this week,” he said, urging residents to cease burning until the winds die down and the grass greens up in March.