Fires reminiscent of year 2000 wildfires

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Calcasieu emergency officials say the fire situation is similar to back in the year 2000 when hundreds of acres of woods were ablaze in rural Allen Parish. Calcasieu officials are devising an emergency operations plan to combat such wildfires

Back in September of 2000, for several days it seemed as though Allen Parish was burning from all directions. It was a dangerous situation that threatened lives and property-- and pushed fire departments to their limits.

Calcasieu Director of Emergency Response Dick Gremillion says conditions now are similar to what they were then. "There doesn't appear that there's going to be any significant rainfall for the next ninety days according to the National Weather Service so we're moving into a period of time that's going to be very dangerous for wildfires to get out of control and potentially, what we worry about, is burning into people's houses or businesses."

Gremillion says once morning humidity burns off conditions become right for a fire to start and spread.  "Generally around midday, like right now it's around noon, the humidity gets to about the lowest level of the day. The winds also come up higher and then it kind of abates later as you get into the day. Five or six o'clock in the afternoon the temperatures go down, the humidity goes up and it kind of alleviates some of the problem but most of the problem is going to be from midday to late afternoon."

One of the challenges is that many rural fire departments rely on volunteers to fight fires-- volunteers who have other jobs and are not always able to leave work to fight a fire. Gremillion says they are working on an emergency operations plan to respond to what may be some difficult days ahead. "We have to know where our manpower is, what resources are available, as far as equipment, manpower, financing because this is actually going to cost some money to go out and combat. "

Gremillion points out many departments need more volunteers to provide adequate manpower particularly during the day. When they meet tomorrow night, police jurors are expected to ratify the ban on burning in Calcasieu Parish.

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