Dangerous conditions fuel fires across mid-Missouri

1 month 4 weeks 1 day ago February 25, 2017 Feb 25, 2017 Saturday, February 25 2017 Saturday, February 25, 2017 5:00:00 PM CST in News
By: Matt Vereen, KOMU 8 News Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA — Boone County experienced at least a dozen fires Feb. 18, a number that did not surprise fire officials.

That is because Missouri is currently in what officials refer to as “wildland fire season” or “natural cover fire season.”

Boone County Fire District Bureau Director Gale Blomenkamp said fire seasons in the Midwest can start as early as December and stretch into late March.

“The conditions that we’re seeing is the ten-hour fuels, which are your grasses and twigs, are very dry. And then we have relatively low humidities on some days and then erratic winds,” Blomenkamp said.

This dangerous mixture of conditions can quickly turn a small, controlled fire into a scary situation. James Barnard learned that lesson the hard way.

Barnard, a Columbia resident, was looking to burn off some weeds that had collected near his barn when suddenly the flames went out of control.

“The wind picked it up and just took it and it went off into the grass,” Barnard said.

While he had been closely monitoring the flame and had water nearby, he was still unable to stop the fire from spreading through part of his yard.

“I tried to put it out. My neighbor helped me, but it was too hot and too fast,” Barnard said.

The fire had spread almost 100 yards across his lawn in just 20 minutes. The flames did not move toward his house; instead they passed in front of it and were halted by a gravel road.

Firefighters were quickly on the scene and had the fire completely under control within an hour.

Barnard's story is not unusual for this time of year. Controlled burns are common in the Midwest as people clear their fields or get rid of unwanted plants.

Blomenkamp said no matter how closely a fire is monitored, conditions can spread the flame faster than people can fight it.

“The best thing that the public can do is monitoring the weather conditions. If you have winds of 5-10 miles per hour, we would ask you not to burn,” Blomenkamp said.

For firefighters, combating flames spurred by such conditions is part of the job. Most people, however, probably do not have the tools needed to prevent severe property damage or worse.

Some families learn this lesson at a far higher cost than Barnard, but he’ll never forget just how dangerous this season can be.

“It’s a lot more hazardous than I ever dreamed. It just went so fast,” he said.

Barnard has some advice for people thinking about ignoring the warning signs.

“Just don’t do it. Wait for better conditions,” he suggested.

Blomenkamp said the most important thing for people to do is call their local fire department so firefighters can do their job. He said having a water source nearby is also a good idea.

The wildland fire season could last until late March. Anyone with questions about having a controlled burn should contact their local fire station.

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - A male was shot on Greensboro Drive and taken to the hospital Wednesday night. He suffered non life-threatening... More >>
1 hour ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 11:09:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Capital Region Medical Center held a language workshop Wednesday night for parents with young children who have... More >>
4 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 8:04:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - City staff are working to make headway on two new landfill projects for Columbia. At a meeting... More >>
4 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 7:57:00 PM CDT in News
FULTON - The body of 31-year-old Carl DeBrodie may have been in a large storage container filled with cement for... More >>
5 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 6:37:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA- In the latest Association of American Universities (AAU) report released Wednesday, the University of Missouri was highlighted for its... More >>
6 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 5:36:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri representatives have approved that the state pay an extra $241 million in unexpected expenses for... More >>
6 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 5:33:47 PM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Family members of a man whose death was caused by Arkansas death row inmate Kenneth Williams say... More >>
6 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 5:26:16 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis' city minimum wage could rise to $10 an hour starting next week now that... More >>
8 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 4:16:16 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft teamed up with Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and local legislators... More >>
8 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 4:12:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri motorcycle crashes have resulted in 475 deaths since 2012, with 122 fatalities occurring in last year... More >>
8 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 3:41:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A controversial bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly could change the handling of workplace discrimination claims in... More >>
8 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 3:28:24 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri lawmakers are pushing legislation that would make it harder for judges to require domestic violence... More >>
9 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 2:54:16 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A coalition of organizations rallied at the state capitol Wednesday in support of a "Moral Missouri." ... More >>
9 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 2:48:00 PM CDT in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Fire officials in St. Louis are investigating after a vacant home exploded, sending glass, wood and... More >>
11 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 1:20:50 PM CDT in Continuous News
NEOSHO (AP) - Students at a college in southwestern Missouri will see a tuition increase in the coming year in... More >>
11 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 12:47:33 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY — Lincoln University students went to an African-American Genealogy workshop Wednesday morning to learn more about their family... More >>
11 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 12:36:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court has set an execution date for this summer for a man sentenced... More >>
11 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 12:28:09 PM CDT in News
PINE LAWN (AP) — Police are looking for two cars in connection with the shooting deaths of three men in... More >>
11 hours ago April 26, 2017 Apr 26, 2017 Wednesday, April 26 2017 Wednesday, April 26, 2017 12:23:39 PM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 45°
1am 45°
2am 45°
3am 44°
4am 43°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

11:37p
Late Night with Seth Meyers
12:37a
Last Call with Carson Daly
1:07a
The Insider
12:00a
Raising Hope
12:30a
Cheaters
1:00a
Cheaters

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Superstore
7:30p
Superstore
8:00p
Chicago Med
9:00p
The Blacklist
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Riverdale
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld