Arsonists are suspected in three fires that have burned thousands of acres of the Mark Twain National Forest in southern Missouri. Forest Service spokesman Thom (Tom) Haines says the fires were spotted yesterday afternoon in an area that incurred a major blow-down of trees two years ago. 

Firefighters are battling a fire that has consumed about five-thousand acres.  And there are fears the fire could spread because of afternoon winds coming in ahead of a cold front.

Haines thinks the fires are matter of malicious mischief.  But they’ve led to the callup of more than 35 firefighters, four engines, and five bulldozers.

He hopes rain coming in behind the cold front will help firefighters knock down the fire.

The forest covers about 1.5 million acres in 29 southern Missouri counties.

Listen to interview with Thom Haines 7:25 mp3