Dry, dead vegetation causing fires

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BOONE COUNTY - Grass fires are prevalent this time of year due to a lack of water in plants and grass. At least four such fires were reported in Boone County yesterday due to dry, windy conditions around mid-Missouri.

Fire crews responded to one controlled burn that got out of control and burned down a shed. Another fire started by accident. 

"An unintentional burn can be started by a small spark," he said. "One of the last fires we ran on [March 30] was started by fireworks, a kid out shooting pop bottle rockets. It's that dry."

Boone County Fire District Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said every Spring the amount of grass fires increase.

"The ground is very wet, but the grasses are either dead or dormant," he said. "So there's no uptake of moisture into the plant and so the plants themselves and the grasses are very, very dry."

Blomenkamp said many of the fires this time of year are prescribed burns that get out of hand. 

"Whether it's from a wind shift or the fire has grown bigger or larger than they anticipated it to be, so then they call on us to help control that," he said.

But fires that damage other people's property is the fault of those who start it, even if it was unintentional.

"Whether it's their grasses, their hay, their houses or their barns, people are liable for destroying other people's property," he said. "It is a serious matter when these fires get out of control." 

Blomenkamp said the best way to protect against the fires getting out of hand is to understand the area and what is being burned.

He said it is very important to have a barrier around the area consisting of very short grass or bare dirt so the fire doesn't continue spreading. 

Blomenkamp said no burning should take place with winds above 5-10 miles per hour.

For more information on how to successfully execute controlled burns, Blomenkamp said you can contact your local conservation department.