Investigator: House fire that sparked Yazoo County wildfire being investigated as arson

UPDATE: 03/22/2017 3:30pm

The house fire that sparked a wildfire in Yazoo County is being investigated as arson, according to an investigator with the Yazoo County Sheriff’s Department.

According to the Mississippi Forestry Commission, a total of 121 acres burned in the wildfire.

We’re told that 56 homes and structures were saved.

“The Mississippi Forestry Commission is always proud of our Wildland Firefighters for a job well done in tough and demanding conditions. We are also incredibly pleased with the quality of interagency communication that took place between our valued volunteer firefighting, emergency management, and law enforcement partners. The assistance of these partners allowed us to prevent loss of life and homes while protecting our state’s natural resources.”

Twenty-three MFC crew members were at the scene of the fire. We’re told it took over 14 hours to completely contain.

Several agencies were one the scene, including volunteer fire departments, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Yazoo County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, and others.

UPDATE: 03/22/2017 9:37am Jack Willingham, Director of the Yazoo County Emergency Management Agency says that the fire is still contained and that there are no updates at this time.

UPDATE: 03/21/2017 10:08pm WJTV’s Andrew Nomura says the area will continue to be monitored overnight to ensure that the fire does no start up again.  Forestry officials are expected to head to the site again in the morning.  The cause of the house fire that initiated the wildfire is still under investigation.

UPDATE: 03/21/2017 4:46pm Officials are closely watching the fire.  WJTV’s Beth Alexander reports that the cause of the fire could be arson.

Yazoo County Sheriff Jake Sheriff says the wildfire started at a home on Halford Lane.  The home burned down and the fire spread into the woods nearby.  The blaze is now burning 60 to 70 acres, threatening 45 to 55 structures.  The house fire is under investigation.

One neighbor, Misty Torres, says, “These are people’s houses that have been here a long time.”  Torres lives on Old Benton Road.  She has been watching for more than 24 hours as firefighters worked near her home.  She says that she’s not worried about losing her home because she is on the other side of the road from the fire, but a neighbor was evacuated from her home on Halford Lane during the night.  At this time no other evacuations have been ordered but the sheriff’s department is checking on residents.

Yazoo County Sheriff Jake Sheriff says he spoke to the Mississippi Forestry Commissioner about the heat and dry conditions.  “…(H)e was telling us as it gets hotter and the more the wind blows the fire carries and it carries fast.”  He says that the county is working with the MS Forestry Commission and local fire departments and police.  Bulldozers from as far away as Bay Springs and Attala County have been brought in to help.  Sheriff Sheriff says, “At this point we’ve had bulldozers come in and try to cut lanes to keep the fire from getting further into home areas.”

Bill Kitchings with the MS Forestry Commission says, “It’s rugged in there.”  He adds that downed trees, steep bluffs, and kudzu vines are fueling the fire and making it difficult to get to.

At last check the fire had not spread outside of the 60 to 70 acres already affected.


Original Story:

YAZOO COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) — A wildfire is burning near Yazoo City. Officials tell WJTV that the fire is threatening dozens of buildings.

The Mississippi Forestry Commission tells us that they have seven units on the scene. The fire is threatening 45 to 55 structures, officials said.

The wildfire started after a house caught fire Monday night. Authorities estimate that the fire is covering about 60 to 70 acres.

A wildfire in Yazoo County is started after a house fire. (Photo: WJTV)

We’re told that the fire is over a rough terrain area that has trees down from tornado damage that happened a while back.

The debris is fueling the flames. The wind is also blowing smoke toward Yazoo City.

The Forestry Commission is sending more units to respond.

“There’s one coming from Bay Springs,” Bill Kitchings of the Forestry Commission said. “There’s one coming from Attala County. The larger dozer is coming from Bay Springs. So we’ve got other equipment and resources in route to the fire.”

Crews are working on plowing fire lanes to contain the fire.


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