Dry Weather Leads to Wildfire Concerns

8 years 6 days 22 hours ago Friday, November 05 2010 Nov 5, 2010 Friday, November 05, 2010 11:10:46 PM CDT November 05, 2010 in News
COLUMBIA - A large portion of Missouri is facing a high risk of wildfires this fall.

The recent dry weather and high winds means there's more dry fuel on the ground. The wet summer also caused more growth that could burn this fall. Officials from the Missouri Department of Conservation said there is 10 times more dry brush on the ground than normal.

"Everybody knows it's been a long time since we've seen rain. And the conditions are pretty dry," Ann Koenig of the Missouri Department of Conservation said. "We have fairly low humidities, quite a bit of wind, and it's really pretty dry out there."

The highest risk is in southern Missouri, which officials said is experiencing a prolonged drought. But the fires are happening here, too.  Crews recently fought a wildfire in mid-Missouri at the Three Creeks Conservation Area in Boone County.

Officials said a campfire started that wildfire. Officials labeled the area an "extremely high fire danger." The wildfire burned about 50 acres of forest.

The top causes of wildfires include deer hunters' campfires and fires started by residents burning yard debris. Many people in the country areas burn their leaves and other yard waste in the fall. This controlled burning can start wildfires when it's windy outside or when safety precautions are not followed.

"Typically, our wildfires start as controlled burns that burn out of control," battalion chief for the Boone County Fire District Gale Blomenkamp said.

The normal Missouri wildfire season is in February and March, but some wildfires do occur this time of year. Blomenkamp says it's not unusual for him to receive 80 calls about fires in a month during wildfire season.

Officials stress safety precautions like leaving 10 feet of space around a fire. They also say it is a good idea to keep water nearby and watch for stray embers.

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