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Think Twice Before Striking a Match

Published on: Nov. 4, 2010

Missouri’s state fire marshal says the danger of wildfire is extremely high all over Missouri, on account of an incredibly dry October. What the fire marshal didn’t mention is the enormous amount of woody fuel on the ground right now.

Ice storms in 2007 and 2008 wrecked tens of thousands of acres of forest statewide. Tornadoes and violent straight-line winds dumped more branches, limbs and trunks on the ground, magnifying this already serious problem. Foresters estimate the amount of downed woody fuel across much of southern Missouri is 10 times greater than normal.

Missouri’s fire season normally is spring, but this year the greatest fire danger is coming in autumn. That, coincidentally, is when people are most likely to be outdoors burning leaves and other debris. The threat this poses to property and human life is extremely serious. If at all possible, delay burning debris until a significant rain reduces the fire danger. At the moment, the weather forecast shows little chance of rain for the next 10 days. If you must burn debris, be sure to clear leaves and other burnable material from a strip of at least 10 feet around the planned fire. Don’t burn during windy conditions, and have a garden hose and other firefighting tools on hand before striking a match.

Hunters should be extra cautious this fall, too. A campfire is an indispensible part of deer camps. Most hunters are steeped in the fire discipline of Smoky Bear and Boy/Girl Scouting. Remember those rules when you head out to deer camp later this month. Clear a generous zone around your fire ring. Reduce the size of your fire under windy conditions. Keep water close by in case wind carries embers into surrounding woods. Extinguish campfires completely before turning in each night and before leaving camp in the morning.

Natural-cover fires threaten people’s lives as well as their livelihoods. A significant number of these fires are maliciously set by vandals. Citizens can stop that by reporting arsonists through the toll-free Operation Forest Arson hotline: 1-800-392-1111.

To help stop the spread of devastating insect pests that can hide in firewood, get your firewood from a local source where you camp and burn it all where you get it.

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Comments

On November 12th, 2010 at 2:19pm smitht2 said:

Anonymous, I don't know what "citing" up a downed tree entails, but you can pick up downed, dead wood for campfires on conservation lands and on national forest lands. Just don't be cutting any live vegetation or felling any living or dead trees. Both the Conservation Department and the U.S. Forest Service allows firewood cutting, under permit,  in areas where the wood removal is consistent with management goals and areas are accessible to the public. Check with your local MDC office or district Forest Service office for local opportunities.

On November 5th, 2010 at 5:54am Anonymous said:

As for the comments to get wood or wood fuel for Deer camp fires,what are the rules to citing up downed trees in counties on conservation land an us forrest service lands, an are their needs for any kind of permit. Another contributor is the reckless slash cutting by crews in the MarkTwain National forrest by cutting an dropping any hardwood up 4 inch in diameter an leaving it lay if the state an forrest service would allow for these trees to be removed without a fee the fire dangers woulds be alot worse an create a small business opportunity, within that area.
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