A big windstorm three years ago gets some of the blame for a difficult forest fire in southeast Missouri’s Reynolds County.

A “derecho” (dur-AY-show) blew down trees in about 100-thousand acres of forest int he Ozarks in 2009. The violent straight-line windstorm packing hurricane-force power has left piles of trees and brush that have dried out for three years with the spring and summer heat setting the stage.

Forest Service Spokesman Bill Paxton says the fire near Centerville already is at 50 acres. “Equate it to somebody setting fire to the wood pile. The only thing is this is a bigger woodpile,” he says. He says a fireline is a challenge to establish becuase tree cutters have to clear a path before bulldozers can start carving an open space. He thinks the fire is going to burn at leat sixty acres before it’s contained.

Paxton says another fire, in Taney County, has burned as much as 15-hundred acres. But it’s more typical of Missouri–mostly using fuels on the forest floor.

He says things are so dry in Missouri that a spark, a match, a discarded cigarette….even a vehicle’s hot exhaust system has an 80 percent chance of starting a fire.

 AUDIO: Paxton interview 17:07