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High Winds, Dry Weather Fuels Fire Dangers

WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. -- Along with the return of cold temperatures, high winds and dry conditions are fueling grass and wild fires.
WEBSTER COUNTY, Mo. -- Along with the return of cold temperatures, high winds and dry conditions are fueling grass and wild fires.

Departments like Logan-Rogersville were battling on both fronts; fighting the fire and then dealing with the cold temperatures freezing their equipment.

Logan-Rogersville and other departments say with these dry conditions they need the public to heed burn bans and be careful where they dump ashes.

Firefighters were called out at 3 a.m. Tuesday to deal with this fire.

"With these high winds we've been really busy this last four days dealing with brush fires in general," says Logan-Rogersville Chief Richard Stirts.

Though parts of their equipment were freezing and snow falling, the winter weather was just adding insult to injury.

"Pretty extreme fire conditions, I think wind chill go down to minus four, it was snowing most of the morning,” says Stirts. “So three to five foot flame length and winds 25 to 30. It's rare conditions you get that way but it still burns just as bad as if it's 55 or 65."

The cold is helping to fuel the fire.

"We've had a really cold winter so the vegetation, the fine fuels, grasses, leaves are a lot dryer than normal and last night's fire was the result of somebody dumping their ashes out and we had a wind shift overnight which blew it into the woods,” says Stirts.

Stirts says after years of dry weather last spring was very wet.

"So all that vegetation has grown and gotten thick and now we've had the coldest winter in, who knows, 10 years,” says Stirts. “And the snow is compounding the problem. Burn a lot hotter, we've had more snow which puts nitrogen in the ground and any time we get those conditions the grasses will burn a lot more extreme after a snow in the winter."

Drew Albert with the National Weather Service is a Fire Weather Program leader he's responsible for working with forecasters and emergency responders alike.

"The wind has kind of calmed down now but obviously last night the cold front came through and the winds kicked up, you know, gusting 35 or 40 miles per hour,” says Albert.

Albert says it's important that the public pay attention to burn bans and wind warnings.

"We have a hazardous weather outlook which also highlighted the gusty winds last night,” he says.

A wild fire near Diamond, Mo. burned more than one hundred twenty acres. Right now, Boone County, Ark. has a burn ban.

You can check these conditions yourself on the National Weather Service website by clicking here. The site includes what they call "fire weather" as well as other hazards.

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