Fires ravage Beauregard in three weeks since burn ban issued
BEAUREGARD PARISH, La. (KPLC) - Fires have ravaged Beauregard Parish in the three weeks since a burn ban was issued on Aug. 1.
Agencies from all over the state are working tirelessly to battle wildfires after extreme heat has turned much of the parish’s landscape into kindling, authorities said in a news conference today.
The fires, which have spanned an estimated 10,000 acres, forced the evacuation of residents on Neale Oil Field Road yesterday, but the mandatory evacuation has since been lifted. The voluntary evacuation orders for the residents of Merryville, residents along La. 110 West between Merryville and Singer and the residents on Neale Oilfield Road east of Merryville have also been lifted.
The Beauregard Sheriff’s Office said they are keeping a voluntary evacuation order in effect for residents from the intersection of La. 27 and La. 110 West in Singer, north to Otto Franklin Road to include the community in and around Dude Slaydon Loop and Grantham Road.
A voluntary evacuation notice has recently been issued for Singer residents north to Fred Cloessner Road, particularly on the east side of the road. Residents in this area should prepare to evacuate if necessary.
“From the time the burn ban was issued in Beauregard on August 1 through Monday morning, there were 135 fires in Beauregard Parish,” said Beauregard Parish Sheriff Mark Herford.
A mandatory evacuation was issued this morning for residents on Neale Oil Field Road as the wildfire in the Singer and Merryville area moved north overnight. Fire departments across SWLA came to the aid of Beauregard.
“We had resources from many parishes, Calcasieu, all of Beauregard...the whole region poured support in to be here,” said Beauregard District 1 Fire Chief Jay Williams. “Right now, on the south side, we have about 60% of the fire contained, north is 25%. East and west is pretty much under control or controllable.”
Sheriff Herford said the Dept. of Agriculture and Forestry and Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness have contributed two Black Hawk helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft in an effort to drop water over the blaze and douse the fire.
These Black Hawks drop 300-500 gallons of water per basket, and officials are hopeful their assistance will help extinguish the fire by the end of today. In addition to the air water drops, the response includes dozers, which are designed to fight vegetation fires by removing flammable plant material down to bare soil.
“I’ve been a fire chief for 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve seen twelve dozers on a fire call,” said Calcasieu Ward 6 Fire Chief Todd Parker.
Forces joined together to tackle the fires as quickly as possible, but authorities want to make the public aware of the dangers that still remain.
“This is a big one. Once it’s over, you can’t check it off; the danger’s still there. It could happen in the next few minutes at a different location, and we’re spread thin. Continue to follow the burn ban,” said Williams.
Officials have also asked residents not to call authorities for sightings of smoke - only if you see flames - in order to conserve resources.
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