Despite frequent rains over the past several weeks, local firefighters have been kept busy with numerous calls to contain brush fires. Area residents can expect the fire danger to continue for the several more weeks until things green up and the humidity increases into summer.
Since March 7, the Cuba Fire Protection District has responded to a total of 23 brush fires. Seven of those were mutual aid requests from surrounding agencies. Since March 15, Crawford County E911 Emergency Services has dispatched calls for 22 natural cover fires and 10 requests for mutual aid to surrounding areas.
The area has been under several Red Flag Warnings recently and more can be expected. According to the National Weather Service, a Red Flag Warning means warm temperatures, very low humidity and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger.
The Weather Service recommends the following measures to help prevent brush and wild fires:
• If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels should be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than three-quarters of an inch.
• Do not throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire.
• Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it.
• Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread.
On several occasions in the past week, heavy smoke has blown into Crawford County due to some large, controlled burns in the Mark Twain National Forest. Area residents should keep in mind that the U.S. Forest Service has the manpower and equipment to conduct such a burn, even in dry conditions.