updated 3/9/2006 3:40:05 PM ET 2006-03-09T20:40:05

Firefighters battled about 100 wildfires in Mississippi on Wednesday, including several along the hurricane-damaged Gulf Coast.

Mississippi Forestry Commission officials say a lot of rain is needed to offset extremely dry conditions.

Debris left by Hurricane Katrina in August increase the threat of wildfires on the coast.

The fires are the result of dry and windy conditions that have persisted since Feb. 25, when the state last received significant rainfall. The fires stretched as far north as the Tennessee line and south to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Jackson, George, Greene and Forrest counties have issued burn bans. Bans also are expected to be posted soon in Harrison, Hancock and Marion counties.

Forestry Commission fire crews responded to 270 wildfires that burned over 7,700 acres statewide this past week, said Everard Baker, interim state forester. March is the most active month for wildfires in the state due to high winds and typically low rainfall, Baker said.

From March 1-7, there have been 676 wildfires that burned 23,039 acres statewide, said Kent Grizzard, spokesman for the Forestry Commission. By comparison, the state usually averages 564 wildfires over 10,000 acres for the entire month, he said.

While some property damage was reported statewide, no homes were lost, Grizzard said.

One of the largest fires was recorded in Pearl River County. Over two days, 850 acres have been consumed, Grizzard said, and the fire is expected to expand even further because of the large amount of debris left by Katrina.

Some 200 volunteer firefighters in Jones County battled on Wednesday a 185-acre forest fire, the largest of seven that erupted in the county. Motorists traveling along the highway near the intersection of Mississippi 29 were urged to use extreme caution because of the heavy smoke.

Fires were also reported in Clarke, Jasper, Newton, Lauderdale, Smith and Wayne counties, officials said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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