UPDATE: 550-acre fire in Iron County; no fireworks
Approximately 550 acres of Mark Twain National Forest in Iron County, located just north of the town of Bixby (south of Viburnum) along Highway 32-49 continues to burn, although the fire was ringed Friday night, and is considered 40% contained.
Prognosis for the fire is uncertain because of continuing high temperatures and dry conditions, MTNF fire coordinator Jody Eberle said. Small fires are not uncommon on the Forest, caused by lightning strikes, careless smokers, and campers who do not thoroughly extinguish campfires. Although Missouri is typically hot in summer, frequent rain and high humidity tend to limit the extent of both grass and forest fires.
USFS firefighters are being brought in from Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to relieve local crews on the ground for the last three days.
Since February, approximately 5000 acres has burned across the 1.5 million acre forest, mostly in small plots. For the month of June approximately 2 inches of rain has fallen in the surrounding region. The last significant rain occurred on June 21.
Dry ground conditions are mapped by agribusiness: this map from the webpage of DTN/The Progressive Farmer shows the extent of drought conditions through Missouri and Traveler Country:
The number of fireworks displays cancelled or postponed, and local burn bans enacted has outrun Traveler’s ability to keep track. Suffice to say before traveling long distances for a Fourth of July celebration or doing anything more fire-intensive than starting up a charcoal grill, see what the status of the display or what your local fire district or municipality is permitting. Wood fires, with their tendency to spark and pop, are more dangerous than charcoal, and have been banned on MDC conservation areas and are being permitted on the Mark Twain only in established fire rings or elevated grills.
Previous story June 27:
A 300-acre fire in Iron County closed Hwy. 32 for a time late on June 28, according to a report from KFVS-12 in Cape Girardeau.
The fire was still underway as of 10 p.m. Reports say it is located about 10 miles from Johnson Shut-Ins State Park. The park is not threatened, and crews were working to contain it overnight.
Fire danger across the region is currently listed as “Very High.”
The heavily wooded eastern Missouri Ozarks, especially near the Parkland and Arcadia Valley into Bollinger County are especially vulnerable to wildfires under these hot, dry conditions. A derecho wind on May 8, 2009 did extensive damage to hundreds of thousands of acres of woods in the region. Although some progress has been made in clearing out the downfall and deadfall in some areas, much has never been touched, and after four years makes perfect tinder for a glowing cigarette butt, a spark from metal scratched on rock, or other tiny flame.
The official temperature today hit 108 F in St. Louis, breaking the record for this date, 104 F, set in 1952. For much of the day, local humidity hovered between 15 and 20%, making eastern Missouri feel more like Arizona or the southern California desert than it’s usual muggy self.
At this point, Farmington and Perryville have postponed their 4th of July fireworks until after rain brings some relief to the area, according to reports via KTJJ-98 in Farmington. Fredericktown is also considering making that decision; with no rain in sight, anyone considering attending a municipal display should consult their city or town authorities before making plans. Arnold is canceling their display, and Kirkwood considering it.
Washington County has put a no burn/no fireworks ban in place. In Iron County, Pilot Knob and Ironton are prohibiting fireworks for individuals.
Arcadia has prohibited fireworks in town and Viburnum has designated a fireworks zone.
Traveler has received word that fireworks at Wappapello Lake will proceed as planned; the fireworks are shot so that hot debris falls into the lake.
If we hear of any updates to this list regarding major fires, or fireworks cancellations, we will post them here.
Laurie Driver, of the Little Rock District of the Army Corps sent along this list of useful weblinks for people wanting direct information from agencies responsible for fire weather reporting,
Fire Danger – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/?n=fire_weather
Burn Bans – http://mdc.mo.gov/landwater-care/fire-management/wildfires
Drought Conditions – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/eax/?n=drought
Air Quality Alerts – http://airquality.weather.gov/sectors/missouri.php
Heat Advisories – http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf/
USDA Forest Fire information: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mtnf/home/?cid=fsm8_045667
Traveler also receives news releases on fire status on MTNF lands.
Fire Danger – http://www.arkfireinfo.org/index.php?do:showWildFires
Burn Bans – http://www.arkfireinfo.org/index.php?do:showBurnBans
Drought Conditions – http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lzk/?n=drought2012.htm
Air Quality Alerts – http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lzk/
Heat Advisories – http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lzk/