Although rain is in the forecast this week and will certainly be welcomed by area fire fighters, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a “Red Flag Warning” for much of Missouri for the first part of the week. According to the NWS, “This means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential.
At this time of year, even with significant rainfall, when the sun comes out and winds pick up, dead vegetation will dry out quickly and will become easily ignitable.
Rural fire departments, as well Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Forest Service personnel, have been extremely busy the past week extinguishing fires that started as a controlled burn but quickly went out of control.
Goodhope Fire Chief Richard Mitchell reported this week that within that area of western Douglas County alone, some 250 acres have burned in the past week.
Tuesday, the stave mill of Benny Thomas, located on NN Highway, was completely destroyed by fire. Mitchell said it was first believed a brush fire had spread into the stave mill, but it was later determined that the fire started at the stave mill and set the surrounding area on fire.
Ava Rural, Skyline and other rural fire departments of eastern Douglas County have also been busy almost around the clock during the past week because of low humidity and high winds.
The Missouri Department of Conservation urges landowners, hunters, campers, and others in the outdoors to follow these precautions to protect lives, property and Missouri’s precious forests.
Do not conduct outdoor burning during red-flag conditions. Dry fuel combined with high temperatures, low humidity and high winds make fire nearly impossible to control. Check with local fire departments regarding burn bans that may be in place. A person who starts a fire for any reason is responsible for any damage it may cause. For more information on using prescribed fire as a land-management tool, visit www.mdc.mo.gov and search “Prescribed Fire.”
Driving Off Road
Wildfires can start when fine, dry fuel, such as grass, comes in contact with catalytic converters.
- · Think twice before driving into and across a grassy field.
- · Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of leaves that can touch the underside of a vehicle.
- · When driving vehicles off road, regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure that fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent.
- · Always carry an approved fire extinguisher on vehicles that are used off road.
- · Check for the presence of spark arresters on ATV exhausts.
Making a Campfire
Clear a generous zone around fire rings. When humidity is low and wind is high, debris can become tinder for a stray spark or ember.
- · Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
- · Never use gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquid to start a fire.
- · Keep campfires small and controllable.
- · Keep fire-extinguishing materials, such as a rake, shovel and bucket of water, close by.
Never Leave a Campfire Unattended!
Extinguish campfires each night and before leaving camp (even if it’s just for a few moments).
Smokers: Practice Extra Caution
Extinguish cigarettes completely and safely and dispose of butts responsibly by burning them in a controlled campfire or packing them out.
Don’t Delay Call for Help!
Call 911 (or the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at 683-1020) at the first sign of a fire getting out of control.
Report Forest Arson
Many wildfires are set by vandals. Help stop arson by calling 800-392-1111. Callers will remain anonymous and rewards are possible.