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Fire on the Mountain!

Fire departments from throughout east Missouri helped fight a raging brush fire on Pilot Knob Mountain in Iron County on Tuesday. The fire, which encompassed around 400 acres of land, is believed to have started around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and was reportedly brought under control by 9:40 p.m. that evening. This photo by Vincent Price shows the fire racing across the face of the mountain from the vantage point of the walls of Fort Davidson, where the Battle of Pilot Knob was fought during the Civil War. Vincent Price

Iron County Emergency Management Director Lucas Anderson released a statement Wednesday afternoon regarding the fire on Pilot Knob Mountain in Iron County.

According to Anderson, the Pilot Knob Fire Protection District was dispatched at 1:04 p.m. to a brush fire in the 1100 block of North Main Street in Ironton but noted that the fire was not located inside the city limits. Crews began battling the fire and asked for additional manpower and resources. A request for mutual aid was sent, and 38 surrounding agencies, including three regional task force units, responded and provided aid.

St. Francois County Central Dispatch moved its command center to the Battle of Pilot Knob State Historic Site, and Iron County Emergency Management established a command post on North Main Street, near Industrial Drive.

“Crews battled the nearly 800-acre fire until it was reported as 100% contained at around 9:30 p.m.,” Anderson said. “Crews remained on the scene and monitored fire lines, quickly reinforcing them as needed and containing any spot-overs that crossed the fire line. The fire continues to burn inside the burned ring area and will likely continue for several days. Smoke, even flames, will be visible during this time.

“Fire crews continue to monitor the area and will respond accordingly. Crews from the Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife are still on the scene and will continue to work the site to ensure fire line integrity. All responders want to thank the outpouring of support, food, water, and other items donated during this event.”

Anderson said the fire is believed to have been caused by a landowner brush hogging in the area and sparking the initial grass fire.

“Due to the high winds and low relative humidity, the fire became unmanageable very quickly,” he said. “As we always say, in dry and windy conditions, please refrain from burning during these conditions and when Red Flag Warnings are issued for our area.”


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