The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe

The Hawkeye

Wildfires spread throughout Louisiana in record drought, heat

Isaiah Montgomery

Louisiana has recently faced some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded in its history. Over the last month, hundreds of wildfires have burned across the state due to ongoing drought and high heat.

On Aug. 14, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency due to extreme heat in the state. The Louisiana State Fire Marshal and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture also issued a cease-and-desist order for all private burning. 

 “The extreme heat has already caused a high number of deaths and sent even more people to the hospital,” Gov. Edwards said. “In addition, our state is experiencing very dry weather.” 

The state of emergency expired on Sept. 9, but the burn ban is still in effect. 

This ban prohibits all private burning with no exceptions. However, residents can use contained cooking equipment with safety measures in place. 

On Aug. 22, a plantation on Tiger Island caught fire, destroyed more than 31,000 acres of land and damaged many homes and office buildings on the island. 

Since then, it has been declared Louisiana’s largest wildfire caused by arson. 

The Tiger Island fire is currently 71% contained, and officials are finding creative ways to monitor the wildfire. 

According to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Drought Monitor, Tiger Island is in “Extreme Drought” (level 4 out of 5). 

Scattered thunderstorms and cooler temperatures have helped in recent days, but the conditions are still favorable for fire spread. 

The state Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office offered a $2,000 cash award for information about who set the fire. 

Given the abnormally high temperatures, the extreme ongoing drought and dry conditions, any fires that started were able to spread incredibly fast. 

According to the National Weather Service in Slidell, Louisiana, Baton Rouge recorded its hottest August since records began in 1892. 

According to the UNL Drought Monitor, 31.85% of Louisiana is under “Exceptional Drought” (level 5 out of 5), which is the highest level recorded since the record-shattering drought and heatwave of 2011.  

The smoke from wildfires produces air pollution, which negatively impacts air quality and can cause serious health problems. 

“Residents in affected areas and those living outside of the wildfire radius […] should be aware of the health effects caused by smoke and poor air quality,” Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health Stephen Russo said. 

For further updates on state and parish burn bans, refer to the Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s website.   

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