State and National officials issue wildfire danger warning, urge hunters and campers to use extra caution with fire

News from the region
Saint Louis
Published Date

St. Louis—The State Fire Marshal and National Weather Service are urging extreme caution when using fire outdoors during this time of warm temperatures, low moisture and breezy conditions.

Firearms deer season opens this Saturday, Nov. 13. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) asks hunters and other outdoor recreationists taking to the woods to be extra careful with fire.

The weather has been very dry this fall across the entire state, according to Jon Carney, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis. He predicted these conditions to continue into the immediate future.

In addition, dry, fallen leaves on the ground increase the fuel load, making chances higher that an errant spark could encourage a fire to spread and develop into an out-of-control wildfire.

“Hunters and campers need to be extra cautious with campfires this fall,” said Mike Hoffman, MDC Forestry Management Chief.

He recommended taking the following precautions:

  • Clear away all flammable debris from a generous zone around fire rings.
  • Reduce campfire sizes under windy conditions, or avoid starting a fire all together.
  • Keep water close by to douse any embers that might escape from the fire.
  • Extinguish fires completely before going to sleep at night or prior to leaving camp.

“A significant number of wildfires are maliciously set by vandals,” Hoffman also indicated. He encouraged anyone who might observe or have information regarding arson activity to call the Operation Forest Arson Hotline at 800-392-1111.

Callers will remain anonymous and could receive rewards up to $1,000 if their tip results in a successful arrest and prosecution. They will also have the satisfaction of helping to protect Missouri’s valuable forests, and reducing the tax payer burden of wildlife detection and suppression.

In addition, Hoffman reminded hunters and campers that transporting firewood from one area to another increases the danger of spreading devastating insect pests like the emerald ash borer. He suggested getting firewood only from local sources and burning it completely if conditions safely allow.