Missouri at highest risk for fires from drought

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 | 9:05 a.m. CDT; updated 2:05 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 18, 2012

An earlier version of this story included incorrect information about Missouri's fire risk.

ST. LOUIS — The drought has spread across much of the country, creating extreme fire risk in many places, including Missouri.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the combination of hot wind, dry grass and extreme drought has already led to many fires.

In northern Missouri, a barn burned after hay got so hot it spontaneously combusted. Mike O'Connell of the Missouri Department of Public Safety says sparks from fireworks, farm equipment and mowers have all started fires. A cemetery caught on fire in Hannibal after someone tossed a cigarette or cigar from their car.

Many fire departments say they've seen an increase in brush fires, and wildfires in the Mark Twain National Forest have burned more than 4,000 acres since June.

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