Clinton, Mo. – Wildfires that authorities believe were set by arsonists caused damage and danger in Henry and St. Clair counties in recent weeks, said Josh Shroyer, a Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) resource forester based in Clinton. MDC helps community fire departments battle wildfires. In the past week, 20 fires suspected to have been caused by arson have occurred on public and private land near the Harry S Truman Reservoir in Henry County, Shroyer said.
Authorities ask that citizens report any suspicious activity that could be related to deliberately set fires. Information can be reported anonymously to the Operation Forest Arson hotline: 800-392-1111. Rewards are available for information leading to arrests and convictions of arsonists.
Wildfire poses danger to people, structures and wildlife habitat. No injuries or structure loss were reported from the recent fires, Shroyer said. But wildfires have the potential to do great harm and battling blazes in forests and fields costs money and puts people at risk.
“Wildfire risks the lives of fire fighters and the public,” he said.
Low humidity and windy conditions have heightened wildfire danger in recent weeks. Plus there is ample fuel on wild lands from dead vegetation or shrubs and trees still mostly dormant from winter.
More than 1,000 acres have burned in the past week, Shroyer said. In 2014, crews have battled about 50 fires in Henry and St. Clair counties that have burned about 3,000 acres in the Truman Reservoir area.
For more information on Operation Forest Arson, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/3704.