Hot, dry conditions contribute to Columbia fires

Thursday, July 5, 2012 | 9:24 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Fire Department responded to 34 fires Thursday, including natural cover fires and structure fires. 

Fire Department officials are warning area residents of the dangerously dry conditions and are stressing the need for caution. 

“Given the hot, dry conditions in Columbia I want to express our strong concern for the increased risk of fires. We are urging residents to be cautious when discarding smoking materials, ashes from barbecue grills and similar items that could start a fire,” Battalion Chief Brad Fraizer wrote in a statement.

A large grass fire was reported at Broadway Townhomes shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday, with flames reaching six feet in height. Firefighters extinguished the fire before it reached the apartment building, and there was no resulting damage to the structure.

Fireworks debris was found in three locations at the burned area, though crews could not be sure if the fireworks caused the fire. Lighting fireworks is illegal within the city's boundaries, according to city ordinances. In unincorporated areas of Boone County, where they are still allowed, Fraizer said he hoped citizens would use "common sense and good practices."

Denny's closed because of fire

A malfunction in the gas water heater at Denny’s restaurant on Knipp Street is to blame for a small fire reported shortly after 8:30 a.m. Thursday, according to a news release from the Fire Department.

Employees discovered the fire and were successfully using a fire extinguisher to contain it when firefighters arrived. The crews then extinguished the fire.

Estimated damage to the structure is $10,000. The restaurant will be closed for an undetermined length of time as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday. 

Supervising editor is Jake Kreinberg. 

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