Crews continue to battle Tiger Island Fire as it reaches pine plantations

Published 2:36 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

By Emily Burleigh

The Tiger Island Fire — located east of Merryville — is burning in pine plantations of multiple ages, according to an update given by the Southern Area Red Incident Management team on Wednesday.

Accessing this area is difficult, and the fuel amounts in the pine plantations are high, which can “contribute to extreme fire behavior,” the team said in an emailed statement to the American Press.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire is 50 percent contained.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards said the affected acreage ranges from 32,000 to 38,000.

Throughout the state, more than 55,000 acres have been burned by hundreds of active fires.

The hot and dry conditions that have exacerbated fire hazards and led to Red Flag warnings will continue through the week.

“There are very serious and severe threats of fires because of the conditions on the ground,” Edwards said.

Edwards said these threats are due to the heat, relatively low humidity, lack of rain and wind gusts. On Thursday in Southwest Louisiana, wind gusts are expected to reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour.

Despite light rain that passed through earlier this week, Louisiana is still experiencing severe drought conditions, Edwards said.

“Because there has been a little precipitation in the state over the last couple of days, there are many people that think, ‘Well, the drought conditions are over. We can return to behavior as normal.’ That is not the case.”

The burn ban is still in effect, and residents are required to refrain from activities that could ignite a new fire.

“There is a lot we can’t control, and we’re praying for rain and for easing of these drought conditions, but at the end of the day we can’t make it rain. We can’t change the wind, the temperature, the relative humidity, but we can control what we do and what we don’t do.”

He said adhering to the burn ban is the best way to assist in the firefighting efforts. The thousands of personnel from the National Guard, Parish Fire Marshal Team, GOHSEP and local law enforcement offices and fire departments that have been working to contain fires don’t need new ones to worry about, he said.

“We have just this huge robust effort. We don’t need to create more work for ourselves and put more property, and more importantly more lives, in danger.”

It is vital residents treat ignition sources —mufflers, cigarettes, outdoor welding, grinding or cutting — with extreme care. This is especially important with tailgating events and Labor Day celebrations.

Edwards asked that no one engage in barbecuing or any outdoor cooking activity.

Louisiana State Fire Marshal Dan Wallace recommends residents consider fire-free alternatives for tailgating and outdoor events, such as pre-packed meals and battery-powered flameless candles.

There are no road closures in Louisiana as a result of the fire, he said. Real time updates on road closures can be accessed online at