Controlled Fire Spreads in Midst of Elevated Fire Danger

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COLUMBIA - Thursday The National Weather Service issued a special statement warning central Missourians of an elevated risk for fire.

In the statement Gale Blomenkamp, battalion chief of the Boone County Fire Protection District said, "Today is not the day to be burning trash or conducting prescribed burns in Boone County."

Despite this, Columbia resident Robert Hagan chose not to yield that advice.

"The landowner decided he wanted to burn his pond bank off and he apparently lit the fire. He went inside and watched that exciting M.U. game." Said Price Nichols, public information officer for Southern Boone County Fire District. "And then after the game was over he came back out and realized there was about 50 acres on fire."

Hagan said the fire was almost out when he went inside but with high winds, one ember can travel quickly.

"Fire spreads faster than you can run," Blomenkamp said.

Although the ground is still very moist from Tuesday and Wednesday's precipitation, Blomenkamp said, don't let that foul you.

"The ground is very wet at this point but the grass is dead or dormant so there's not uptake of moisture into the plant itself. And that's why we have very low moisture within the fuels on the ground."

The biggest contributing factors to wildfires are high winds between ten and 15 mph and humidity below 25 percent. Thursday wind gusts reached up to 23 mph and the humidity level was at 24 percent.

Blomenkamp said an increased danger of fire is very normal for Boone County during this time of year. "This is our wildlife fire season, it runs toward the end of February through March into April. This is our driest time of the year typically for Mid Missouri." 

No one was hurt during the fire on Hagan's land and no buildings were damaged. However, both Blomenkamp and Nichols warn residents to avoid burning at least through the weekend.