BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated by the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness because of wildfires that have popped up across Louisiana.

“State agencies will review support requests from our local partners and do everything reasonably possible to assist them in their response,” said GOHSEP Director Casey Tingle. “Wildfires in Beauregard Parish have grown tremendously over the past 24 hours. Emergency officials have ordered evacuations near Merryville and a significant area has been impacted. Hundreds of other fires have been reported across the state over the past several weeks.”

A statewide burn ban went into effect earlier this month. The extreme heat that has pummeled the state prompted Gov. John Bel Edwards to declare a state of emergency.

“These fires simply put, present a threat to the public, to our families, to our homes and property,” said Tingle.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry provided a breakdown of the number of wildfires in the state in recent months.

  • May: 21 Fires/74 Acres
  • June: 65 Fires/297 Acres
  • July: 128 Fires/1,362 Acres
  • August: 357 Fires/4,909 Acres (as of Aug. 21)

“It is extremely important that the public adhere to the burn ban,” said Tingle. “Crews fighting these fires are becoming strained due to the ongoing problems. We all play a role in preventing additional problems. Weather experts say this has been the hottest, driest summer to date for portions of the state. The dangerous fire conditions will likely continue for an extended period of time.”

Edwards posted on social media Wednesday, “I just completed a call with emergency officials in Beauregard parish and around the state regarding the ongoing wildfires across Louisiana. Many people continue to be unaware of the burn ban in place. Please help us spread the word: do not burn anything.”

“This situation is dangerous for every single one of us,” said Louisiana State Fire Marshal Deputy Assistant Secretary Felicia Cooper. “We are asking everyone to cooperate with the statewide burn ban. This includes not burning anything at all.”

When burn bans are in place, violators can be fined up to $500 and up to six months in jail. That doesn’t include restitution for loss of property.

Acadian Ambulance said they are getting ready to evacuate 18 residents from DeRidder Retirement Home to north Louisiana. Three units are also on standby and a shelter at DeRidder Junior High School.

To report a hazard on the road, you can dial *577 (LSP).

You can find information on preparing you and your family for an emergency here.