The entire Wayne County, Mississippi County Wildfire Protection Plan is available for download by clicking HERE.
Wayne County is located in the northeast corner of the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District. It is rural in context, with the City of Waynesboro being the largest incorporated municipality. With boundaries extending into Greene County, the Town of Stateline is the only other municipality in Wayne County. U.S. Highway 84 runs East and West through the entire county. U.S. Highway 45 extends North and South, intersecting Highway 84 in Waynesboro. State Highway 63, which terminates in Waynesboro, is the only other major highway route in the county. U.S. Highway 45 provides direct access to the City of Mobile, Alabama to the southeast.
The population of Wayne County in 2000 was 21,216, evidencing an 8.7% growth in residency since 1990. The U. S. Census Bureau estimates a 2007 population of 21,096, a slight decrease since 2000.
Wayne County contains 813 square miles, with land largely held by private landowners. Approximately 82% of the county land area is contained within commercial forests. Recreational activities in the area are served by two major recreational facilities. Maynor Creek Water Park is operated by the Pat Harrison Waterway District and provides picnicking, playgrounds, hiking, swimming, boating, camping, natural trails, canoeing, and fishing. Hogan Park is a 22-acre site operated by the City primarily as a sports complex (four ball fields), but also offering picnicking and playgrounds. Other recreational facilities include Dixie Park, a sports complex with six ball fields adapted for and used as soccer fields. This facility adjoins Wayne County High School and is used for the high school athletic program, as well as for community sports programs. Parks in Wayne County include the Chickasawhay State Wildlife Management Area, Thompson Creek Park, Maynor Creek Water Park, and Busby Game Refuge. There are three sites in Wayne County that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are The Waynesboro Bridge, The Yellow Creek Bridge, and Patton’s Fort.
The climate of Wayne County is mild with the mean annual temperature in the mid 60’s. Average winter temperatures range from 34 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit with summer temperatures ranging from 69 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall averages approximately 58 inches annually with the majority of accumulation from November to July. Because of high annual precipitation amounts, Wayne County is not usually prone to property damaging wildfires. Occasionally, however, drought-like conditions prompt fire service officials to issue bans against burning and encroachment of urban development into wildlands becomes more of a concern. County wind speeds are generally less than 10 miles per hour, but often increase during storms. Thunderstorms occur frequently and are sometimes accompanied by strong to severe winds, including tornadoes.
About 82 percent of the land in Wayne County is use-classified as timber, open, or agriculture, creating an enhanced risk to the county of wildfires. Streams and drainage basins create natural barriers that help reduce this risk. Woodlands fires are controlled by rural firefighting departments and/or forestry service personnel. Based on historical 3 occurrences, wildfires can be expected annually in the less urbanized parts of the county. It is the threat of a spread of rural wildfires to the urban fringe that poses the greatest concern. Mitigation measures such as prescribed burns, training and equipping firefighters, and public education on fire protection and Firewise strategies all help to control the risk to life and property.
While climate conditions and debris can cause ignitability, certain industrial operations and facilities can also raise the threat of fire. Major transportation arteries through Wayne County such as U. S. Highways 45 and 84, and MS Highway 63 are used daily to transport flammable, toxic and/or explosive materials, thus exposing the county to potential transportation incidents involving hazardous materials. Several facilities located within Wayne County use, store, or process flammable, toxic, and/or explosive materials. In addition, there are several wells and pipelines spanning the County which contain crude oil, natural gas, carbon dioxide, propane, and other substances. Volunteer fire departments within the county serve as first responders if an incident involving hazardous materials occurs.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau info, Wayne County has a total area of 813 square miles of land area and 3 square miles of water area making it the third largest county in Mississippi. As of the census of 2000, there were 21,216 people, 7,857 households, and 5,853 families in the county. There were 9,049 housing units at an average density of 11 per square mile. The County currently has 17 active stations with the new station at Battles now in service. There are two city fire departments (Waynesboro and Stateline) in the county, for a total of 19 stations. From the facts above if all were divided equal that amounts to about 43 square miles and 473 houses per station. All fire departments are manned by volunteers who receive no compensation for fire protection services. Total number of volunteers is based on current staffing level and is reported to be roughly 250.