Minninghaw fire perhaps largest ever on Mark Twain
ROLLA, Missouri — Since January 1, 2011, Mark Twain National Forest has suppressed 110 fires which have burned more than 19,000 acres of National Forest and other land ownership.
“The Minninghaw wild fire on the Salem Ranger District, at almost 5,000 acres, is possibly the largest documented fire in Mark Twain history,” Mark Twain Fire Management officer Jody Eberly said.
Additional firefighting crews and other resources are being called in to help hold a 5,000-acre wild fire in Salem, Missouri area that started November 1, 2011.
As of 10:30 am Thursday, November 3, 2011, a fire line had been established around the entire fire perimeter.
The wildfire was originally three separate fires that have merged. The Minninghaw fire is located on Mark Twain National Forest’s Salem Ranger District, in southern Dent County near the Shannon County line, approximately 7 miles west of Bunker, Missouri.
Two twenty-person hand crews, one from North Carolina and a second from Georgia, are expected to arrive late November 3, 2011. These resources will provide Mark Twain national Forest additional help and rotate firefighters who have been fighting the wildfire since mid-afternoon Tuesday, November 1, 2011.
Currently, there are more than 40 firefighters, five bulldozers and four engines assigned to the wildfire; most are from Mark Twain National Forest. This includes one 7-person firefighting crew from Mingo Job Corps center in Puxico, Missouri.
The wildfire is burning in heavy fuels created from the May 2009 Derecho wind event.
“These heavy fuels are contributing to increased intensity and extreme fire behavior, especially on a day like November 2, 2011, when moderate to high winds and low relative humidity pushed the fire across containment lines on the west,” said Salem District Ranger Thom Haines. “Firefighters were able to contain the spot fire to around 100 acres. “
At present, no homes are immediately threatened. However, the wildfire has burned some private lands. Nearby neighbors of the Forest have been notified of the situation, said Mark Twain National Forest Salem District Ranger Haines.
Rainfall received overnight has helped suppression. However, predicted weather for the next few days shows a drying trend, and the wildfire is expected to become active again within the next few days.
Arson is the suspected cause of the wild fires.
“Additional law enforcement personnel have been assigned to patrol and investigate the wild fires,” Haines said. “If anyone has any information on who set these fires, please let us know.”
To report information, contact Mark Twain National Forest Salem Ranger District Office at 573-729-6656 or the toll free arson hotline at 1-800-392-1111.
Salem Ranger District had two other suspected arson wild fires yesterday; one wild fire was 5 acres, and a second wild fire approximately 310 acres in size. Two wildland fire engines and two dozers were assigned to the larger West Fork Fire.
“Firefighters were able to establish containment lines around these wildfires,” Haines said. “Personnel assigned to the larger fire conducted burnout operations last night to further secure containment lines.”
For more information about the Minninghaw Fire and Mark Twain National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf
Mark Twain National Forest’s 10-year wild fire average is 5,000-6,000 acres per year. Wild fires range in size from less than an acre to several thousand acres. Average wild fire size is about 60 acres.
Most wildfires are contained within one day.
“Most wild fires on Mark Twain National Forest are human-caused,” said Mark Twain National Forest Fire Management Officer Jody Eberly. “Arson and escaped debris burning are the primary causes; wild fires have also resulted from equipment use, trains, careless smoking, and escaped campfires. “
Lightning is a minor cause of Mark Twain National Forest wild fires, with only 1-2 fires per year, if any.
Mark Twain National Forest has about 80 wild land firefighters, 6 fire engines and 10 bulldozers as the forest’s primary firefighting force. This includes 30 professional fire managers on the Forest, who are trained and experienced in wild land fire suppression. Mark Twain firefighters are dispatched to wildfires and other all-hazard incidents across the country, and have even assisted with international fire suppression and emergency incident response.