Missourians are being asked to refrain from outdoor burning until conditions improve by State Fire Marshal Tim Bean.
Due to a threat of fires rapidly spreading because of a lack of significant rainfall, low humidity values, dry fuels, gusty winds and warm temperatures on Tuesday and Wednesday, Bean is discouraging outside burning.
“Under the current drought and weather conditions, even a small outdoor fire can get out of control and spread rapidly, with the potential for property damage and injury,” Bean said in a press release. “It is extremely important for all Missourians to remain vigilant about the fire danger across the state and to help avoid tragedies resulting from ill-advised outdoor burning.”
The United States Drought Monitor has the Missouri counties of Barry, Christian, Greene, Lawrence and Stone experiencing extreme drought as of Tuesday. Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service put out a fire weather watch until 6 p.m. Wednesday in Pettis County, citing “strong southwest winds, low relative humidity, warm temperatures and dry vegetation will combine to promote elevated fire weather concerns across portions of southwest and central Missouri.”
Dry conditions, low humidity and strong winds can combine to create dangerous brush and wildland fires, according to the release. Dry and windy conditions can also lead to wildfire dangers during any time of year.
Sedalia Fire Department Deputy Chief Matt Irwin said the weather was getting dry in Sedalia, but open burning in controlled pits with a burning permit is still allowed in the city as of now.
“If you’re given a burn permit, you’re given a list of the rules that you have to do,” Irwin said. “When a burn permit comes in, you have to have a water source, it has to be so far from a building, it has to be so far from a property line. There can’t be any building materials. It basically has to be sticks and that goes along with the fire pits.
“Those are the only things you can burn in a fire pit are sticks, no leaves, no building materials…” he continued. “It has to be a prescribed size, so we prefer that it has a spark arrestor, so no open top so the embers can’t get away.”
Irwin advised residents to be careful and pay attention when burning, even with fire pits.
“We’re getting into some dry times and dry leaves,” Irwin said. “The leaves are starting to turn, so they’re going to start falling. So you’re going to have a flammable material that’s lying on the ground that can blow away.
“Just remember when you’re open burning if it’s really, really dry and there’s any kind of breeze, even with a fire pit, you have to be aware of your neighbors and your own property. Burning is dangerous, it can get away quickly,” he added.
Bean also reminded Missourians never to throw out lit cigarettes and check for local burn bans or restrictions before conducting any open burning. The Missouri Department of Public Safety also advised residents never to use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start a fire.
Individuals should not leave a fire unattended and always be prepared to extinguish your fire if the winds pick up. Individuals should also not delay calling for help and immediately contact their local fire department at the “first sign of the fire getting out of control.”
For questions or concerns about outdoor burning, contact the Division of Fire Safety at 573-751-2930 or the Sedalia Fire Department at 660-826-8044.