A cold front brought showers and thunderstorms, across parts of the South and Southeast over the weekend and more thunderstorms brought flooding rains to southern Louisiana Monday. A little more rain is on the way from the edges of Hurricane Idalia.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said this weekend 441 different forest fires are still burning in Louisiana, many burning out of control. The wildfire smoke continues to blanket Central and Southern Louisiana with moderate air quality levels based on the Air Quality Index. The air quality near Lake Charles reached "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" Monday morning.
The governor said the ongoing heat wave baking Louisiana has made the firefight exceptionally difficult and increased the severity of the drought conditions.
"It's clear this firefight is far from over, just as these dangerously dry conditions are far from over," Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office wrote on X. "As we head into another week, we pray for rain, for patience & for cooperation with the statewide burn ban."
Neighboring states have been sending help for the ongoing firefight. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey deployed three helicopters to help with the wildfires. Oklahoma National Guard are assisting and both Mississippi and Texas governors sent dozens of firefighters and first responders to Louisiana over the weekend.
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A statewide burn ban is in place until further notice. Those who violate the ban will face charges.
Louisiana State Fire Marshal Dan Wallis said over the weekend an 84-year-old woman died after collapsing while burning debris on her Folsom property. Fire crews discovered her unconscious while extinguishing a fire on the property. She was taken to the hospital where she later died.
"Our hearts are broken for this family tonight," Wallis said in a statement. "This is a horrific situation that should stun every single person in this state. These conditions are not exaggerated and they affect every one of us, even if you can't see the flames and your community isn't under threat of wildfire today. Doing any activity involving fire right now can lead to tragedy for you, your loved ones, your neighbors and your community."
An Independence, Louisiana man was recently charged with violating the burn ban leading to a brush fire, according to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. According to a news release, the fire started when the 41-year-old man was burning trash, and the flames spread into a neighboring pine plantation owned by a local timber company, eventually consuming more than 170 acres.
Fire raging across 17 parishes
Seventeen parishes throughout the state are under local states of emergency because of fires.
One of Louisiana's larger fires, the Tiger Island Fire, continues burning near Merryville. The Tiger Island Fire is estimated to be 50% contained and more than 31,200 acres. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Rain and better mapping improved the outlook for the firefight on Tuesday, according to Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Operations Section Chief Mark Jamieson.
"The moisture the other day helped out a lot but the next couple (of) days it's going to be drying out more and more," Jamieson said.
Officials with the Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office said the fire is consuming 5 miles in 15 minutes. The sheriff's office estimates about 22 structures have been destroyed by the fire.
"This is unprecedented for this area and many of the firefighters combating this massive fire," according to the Sheriff's Office.
On Tuesday, some mandatory evacuation orders in Beauregard Parish were downgraded to voluntary, but all previously issued evacuation orders remain in place.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff's Office has been sharing videos showing the extreme conditions fire crews face to contain the Lions Camp Road Fire.
Mandatory evacuations are in place for Lions Camp Road and the surrounding areas, according to Louisiana State Police.
The Louisiana Red Cross said it's seeking volunteers at shelters for evacuees.
Some heat relief and rain in the forecast for Louisiana
A cold front brought showers and thunderstorms, across parts of the South and Southeast over the weekend, helping to relieve some of the heat. The front dropped temperatures from the triple-digits in to the 90s for Texas and Louisiana.
While it's still hot, it's the first time in weeks high temperatures did not reach 100 degrees across Louisiana on Monday. Heat alerts across the South lifted Monday night.
But the widespread, measurable rain is needed to help with the firefight and extreme drought conditions. Without substantial rain, the firefighting conditions across Louisiana will still be unfavorable.