Lake Bistineau Burn Ban on Exposed Lake Bed

Posted: Aug 10, 2019, 6:09 AM

Bossier Parish joined its across-the-lake neighbors Webster and Bienville parishes Wednesday by issuing a burn ban on the exposed Lake Bistineau lake bed. Officials said the ban will be in effect indefinitely.

Water level on the lake has been lowered roughly six to seven feet after gates on the Bistineau dam were opened for a Fall drawdown intended to help combat giant Salvinia, a major problem for sportsmen and camp owners.

During the drawdown, exposed vegetation can provide fuel for fires that can spread beneath the surface. Fires can last for days or weeks, like the 2012 lake bed fire that burned for 38 straight days. Fires also burned significant areas of the lake bed in 2010 and 2014.

Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials said vegetation on the lake bottom can be as much as 24 inches deep and when it’s dry, makes an excellent fuel for fires. As the fire intensifies, Spanish moss hanging from cypress trees can ignite causing a flare-up across a wider area.

Fire chiefs in Bossier Parish rural departments say getting fire-fighting equipment into remote areas of the lake is just about impossible. In the previous events, firefighters were often limited to equipment they could pack onto four-wheelers and, in some cases, four-wheel drive vehicles.

According to information collected from previous fires, burning trash or debris near, or even on, the lake bed is suspected as a cause of the outbreaks. Local LDWF officials reminded outdoor enthusiasts to refrain from building fires on the exposed lake bottom during overnight camping trips.

Police jury member Bob Brotherton urged lake residents to be extremely careful in what they do.

“Please do not start a fire close to the exposed lake bed because it is very combustible. If you are cleaning up and have to build a fire, do it on your property away from the lake bed,” Brotherton urged.

With weather forecasts calling for temperatures in the 100s through next week, residents are reminded that vegetation exposed as the lake drops will become inflammable very quickly. Extreme caution should be exercised.

To report a lake bed fire, please call one of the two rural fire district headquarters nearest the Lake Bistineau area. Numbers and location are:

  • Bossier Parish Fire District 1, 4494 US Hwy. 80 Haughton, Phone: (318) 949-9440.
  • Bossier Parish Fire District 2, 3551 La. 527 Elm Grove, Phone: (318) 987-2555.