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Risky conditions result in busy day for firefighters

Area fire departments responded to several fire calls Thursday, the apparent result of warm, dry and windy conditions.

Just after 2 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to Robinson Street in Wortham for reports of a brush fire, which soon grew to include an uninhabited mobile home.

Assistant Fire Chief Charlie Lewis said the fire appeared to originate in a barrel where a property owner was burning trash. He said grass around the barrel caught fire and eventually traveled to the mobile home, which was being used for storage.

The mobile home was destroyed in the fire as firefighters from multiple departments, including Leadwood, Bismarck and Park Hills worked to contain the blaze. They remained on the scene for about two hours. 

One vehicle fire was reported at UniTec Career Center in Bonne Terre Thursday afternoon and at least five brush fires were reported at the following locations: Rue Chantilly in Terre Du Lac, Babiak Road near French Village, U.S. 67 one mile south of Air Evac, Saffell Road outside Bonne Terre, Route AA in Ste. Genevieve County and on Lakeview Drive in Goose Creek.

The number of fires had fire officials posting warnings to residents urging them not to burn.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDS), approximately 99 percent of Missouri’s population is experiencing unusual levels of dryness or drought.

Information released Feb. 13 by NIDS indicates that 98.55 percent of Missouri is experiencing at least “abnormally dry” conditions, 63.22 percent is further experiencing “moderate drought” conditions, 26.02 percent is experiencing “severe drought” and 5.59 percent is experiencing “extreme drought.”

Areas experiencing extreme drought include the majority of Washington County and portions of Iron, Reynolds, Dent, Crawford, Franklin, Jefferson and St. Louis Counties. The majority of St. Francois and portions of Ste. Genevieve and Madison Counties are included in the region experiencing severe drought.

Coupled with unseasonably warm and windy conditions, the dryness increased the risk of controlled fires in the area quickly spreading unintentionally.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in Wortham, one of several fires reported in the area on Thursday afternoon. 

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in Wortham, one of several fires reported in the area on Thursday afternoon. 

A map produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Integrated Drought Information System depicts drought conditions in Missouri as of Tuesday. 

A map produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Drought Information System depicts drought conditions in Missouri as of Tuesday. 

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at jscott@dailyjournalonline.com.

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