It’s the time of year when wildfires start cropping up throughout the Missouri.
March and April are dangerous months for wildfires. Bill Altman, forestry supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, says nine homes in Missouri have already been lost to wildfires this year. Another 12 have been damaged and one man has died. The number of barns and outbuildings destroyed and damaged is into the 40s.
Altman says those burning trash or brush need to take precautions:
Watch the weather and avoid burning anything on dry, windy days. He says you can also cover your debris pile with a tarp or a piece of plywood to keep it dry through a rain, and then burn it while everything else is still wet.
He says to never turn your back on a fire, keep tools nearby — such as a shovel, rake and water hose — in case it does get away. Altman says there is another alternative – leave brush piles as a natural habitat for area wildlife or chip it up and use it for mulch.
Otherwise, he says, you can wait until May and June when things green up and the risk of surrounding vegetation catching fire is minimized.
Hot spots are LaClede, Camden and St. Clair counties, but Altman says the amount of down wood from recent year’s ice storms makes conditions hazardous throughout Missouri.
Conservation has also had to battle fires that have resulted from arson. The department is asking anyone who suspects or sees arson to call Operation Forest Arson: Dial toll free 1 – 800 – 392 – 1111. Vist the Operation Forest Arson Web site for more information.
For more information on fire safety tips, visit the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Wildfire in Missouri Web site, where a host of information is available on burning, building natural habitat out of brush piles and more.