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State fire marshal encourages residents to avoid open burning

Friday, November 5, 2010 | 12:48 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA ­­— Because of Missouri’s recent low moisture and breezy conditions, the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Weather Service are asking Missouri residents to refrain from burning leaves or brush for the foreseeable future.

“There is a real danger of what is believed to be a controlled burn quickly getting out of control,” Missouri State Fire Marshal Randy Cole said in a news release.

Fall and spring are the peak times of the year for firefighters to respond to wildfires that begin as controlled burns, Cole said. These fires can also cause property damage, injury and death. 

Three people died in February and March when their controlled fires got out of hand, the release said.

Cole recommends that residents:

  • Check for local burn restrictions or bans before conducting open burning.
  • Keep fire at least 75 feet from all buildings.
  • Never use gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Do not leave a fire unattended.
  • Have fire extinguishing materials on hand, including a water supply, shovels and rakes. Prepare to extinguish your fire if the wind picks up.
  • Call the fire department at the first sign of the fire getting out of control.

The Boone County Fire Protection District also asks on its website that property owners abide by good burning practices, including:

  • Burn only in the early morning or late evening hours when winds are light (no more than 10 mph) and humidity levels are higher.
  • Be sure the fire cannot spread should wind speed increase. Plowing a six- to 10-foot dirt line around what you intend to burn can do this.
  • Do not burn if it is windy or there is a steady breeze above 10 mph.
  • Have a water source and plenty of help nearby to put the fire out if conditions change.
  • Notify the Columbia/Boone County Joint Communications Center at 442-6131 when you intend to do open burning.

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