BEAUREGARD PARISH, La. (KLFY) – Gov. John Bel Edwards conducted a flyover of the wildfire damage in Beauregard Parish Friday, and said the situation is “far from over.”
“The big message at the moment is, it is not contained,” Edwards said.
Edwards said at an afternoon news conference that there were 441 fires across the state burning over 30,000 acres. He also said the problem is not confined to Beauregard Parish, but that there are wildfires burning also in Washington, Tangipahoa, Rapides and St. John the Baptist parishes, among others.
“One bit of good news, if there can be any good news, is that there have been no fatalities,” Edwards said. “
Edwards reiterated the need for people to observe the statewide burn ban, which was re-issued today to include all agricultural burning.
“There is no legal burning anywhere in the State of Louisiana for any purpose right now,” he said. “We’re asking people to be careful. You should not be lighting the barbecue grill outside, anywhere in the State of Louisiana today.”
“We only have so many resources to allocate to fires,” he said. “Once we’re out, we’re out, and we’re requesting assistance from the federal government and sister states. It is starting to arrive now, and we are very thankful, but we all need to do our part.”
Edwards said the unique combination of heat and drought both caused the fires and hinders efforts to combat them.
“Nobody alive in Louisiana has ever seen these conditions,” Edwards said. “It’s never been this hot, this dry for this long.”
Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain said they are continuing to fight these fires.
“We’re fighting between 25 and 30 fires today,” Strain said. “We have nine active fires, some new. We will continue to fight these fires until they are extinguished. We will bring every asset that we have to bear, and any others that we can find anywhere.”
Beauregard Sheriff Mark Herford said they have been notified of multiple fires starting, and asks residents in the area to evacuate immediately.
“We’re getting calls still daily about them watching their neighbors dump cigarette buds out the window,” Herford said. “Please don’t do that, like the commissioner said. There should be no reason at all, whatsoever, to have open flame outside at this point. I know it’s inconvenient for people to pack a bag and leave, but trust me when I tell you we don’t take issuing those orders lightly, and if we issue them, we need you to comply with them.”