Wildfire danger remains high in rural areas

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Published on: Aug. 29, 2012

Kansas City, Mo. -- The recent scattered rains across west Missouri provided a temporary break from drought in an unusually hot summer, but the moisture was not sufficient to end wildfire dangers. The public is urged to avoid burning in outdoor areas and be careful with spark sources such as lit cigarettes and farm machinery, said Mark Nelson, a regional forestry supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Many counties and all MDC conservation areas still have burn bans in place.

“We’re right back where we started from before the rains,” Nelson said on Tuesday, regarding combustibles such as dried weeds, grasses and trees. “The rains were welcome but a brief respite. With this deep a drought, and as dry as the vegetation is, the little bit of rain we had is not enough to make a change.”

MDC crews helped local fire fighters in west central Missouri battle a 40-acre blaze on Monday, he said. Due to mutual aid agreements, MDC crews have battled grass and brush fires along with local fire departments throughout the summer. Since July 1, MDC crews have averaged one fire a day in rural west central Missouri or the Kansas City metro area.

“When it’s this dry, we can have rain in the morning and be fighting fire in the afternoon,” Nelson said. “We’re looking forward to a change in the weather.”

Anyone spotting an arsonist setting a wildfire is asked to call Operation Forest Arson at 1-800-392-1111. Rewards are available for anonymous information leading to successful prosecutions of arsonists.

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