Fire chief advises residents against outdoor burning amid extreme heat

Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - In the face of scorching temperatures and dangerous heatwaves sweeping through the region, a Beauregard Parish fire chief has issued a crucial warning to residents in the area.

Beauregard District 2 Fire Chief Wayne Baggett urged the community to refrain from burning piles outdoors during this period of extreme heat to prevent potential disastrous fires and protect lives and property.

“We don’t have rain in the forecast anytime soon; you walk out on the grass in your yard, it’s crunching,” Baggett said. “It’s super dry outside, so it doesn’t take anything for a fire to get out of hand.”

Even a seemingly innocent burn can quickly escalate into a dangerous inferno. Sunday, a resident’s burn pile got out of hand quickly.

“We had a fire yesterday, got called out at 2:00 p.m., it was 8:00 o’clock last night before we made it in,” Baggett said. “We had forestry there; they plowed lines, two machines, and they would plow the lines, but the wind change kept blowing ambers and it kept jumping the lines, jumping the lines, so we’re trying to avoid having a major catastrophe by people just not burning at all.”

Many area fire departments’ resources are stretched thin. They are short on volunteers and need everyone’s cooperation to prevent further devastation.

“If we can’t get there in time or we can’t get a handle on it, it could be somebody’s property or their home burning,” Baggett said. “We’re short-handed, especially during the day. Everybody’s at work, all your volunteers work a job, and most of them are working, we don’t have them till late at night, late in the evenings. A lot of people think, ‘Oh, I thought it was fine to burn’, well, wind comes up and it’s gone; if at all possible, do not burn no matter what.”

If you’re not sure if it is okay to burn, ask your local fire department first. Bagget also said if you do burn, it is helpful to let authorities know beforehand.