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County Emergency Management Cautions on Open Burning

As spring is just around the corner and the March winds begin blowing across the area, this is a reminder of the risk for wild fires.

Madison County is maintaining the Community Information line, utilizing Title III Fire Wise funding with daily updates of the National Forest Service fire prevention risk status.   This information line also contains the day’s weather forecast from the National Weather Service,, for Madison County.  The Community Information line number is 783-4539.  The website for the National Forest Service is

The Missouri Department of Conservation is concerned that the debris from the May 8, 2009 storm is still an increased risk of forest fires.  This risk will not go away in a year, but will remain over the next 3-4 years.  Posters are placed throughout the county to provide information to citizens as well as visitors to our area.  Flyers are available to camp ground managers and local citizens selling fire wood.  To obtain a copy of the flyer or a copy of the poster for your business, please contact the Madison County Emergency Management Director at 573-783-2747, or stop by the Health Department.

The Mark Twain National Forest Service fire risks are Low, Moderate, High or Very High or Extreme.  These risks mean:

Low/Green – Open burning is usually safe with proper containers and precautions under low fire danger conditions.

Moderate/Blue – Open burning is usually safe with the proper precautions under moderate fire danger conditions. Burning should be done in the early morning and late evening to avoid windier conditions at midday.

High/Very High Orange – Any open burning is discouraged during high fire danger. Windy conditions, low humidity and dry fuels contribute to high fire danger. Fires escape control easily and containment is difficult, endangering human safety and property.

Extreme/Red – Open burning should not be attempted during extreme fire danger.

The National Weather Service St. Louis Office daily weather report for Madison County is also included in the recorded message.  This is also vital in fire prevention as you are given expected wind direction and wind speed, as well as the precipitation expectation for our county.

Tips for Safe Debris Burning

Choose a Safe Burning Site.  A safe site will be far away from power lines, overhanging limbs, buildings, automobiles, and equipment. It will have vertical clearance at least three times the height of the pile, as heat from the fire extends far past the actual flames that you see. It will have horizontal clearance twice the height of the debris pile.

Prepare the Site Correctly: The ground around the burn site should be surrounded by gravel or mineral soil (dirt) for at least ten feet in all directions. Keep the surrounding area watered down during the burn.

If using a Burn Barrel, make sure it is equipped with the proper features: Burn Barrels must be made of all-metal construction in good condition (no rust on the sides or bottom) and properly ventilated with three evenly-spaced, three-inch square vents spaced evenly around the rim near ground level. Each vent must be backed by a metal screen. A Burn Barrel must have a metal top screen with mesh one-fourth inch or finer to keep sparks from escaping and potentially sparking a wildfire. When burning, layer the different types of debris and stir often. Be careful of sparks escaping the barrel when you stir it.

Remain With your Fire: Stay with your fire until it is completely out. To ensure the fire has been completely extinguished, drown the fire with water, turn over the ashes with a shovel and drown it again. Repeat several times. Check the burn area regularly over the next several days and up to several weeks following the burn, especially if the weather is warm, dry, and windy.

Keep it Legal: It is illegal to burn plastic, tires, and most other waste products not from a tree or shrub.

Never leave a burn pile or camp fire unattended.


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