Fires may not stop near Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area for months

Friday, July 20, 2012 | 8:20 p.m. CDT; updated 8:03 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 23, 2012

*A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the location of the fires.

COLUMBIA — Fires near Rocky Fork Lakes Conservation Area* and the city landfill may not stop cropping up for a couple of months. 

A Wednesday fire that grew to cover nearly 25 acres was the fifth in 10 days that occurred in the area.

"We believe it's one of two things, or both," said Chief Gale Blomenkamp of the Boone County Fire Protection District. Pockets of smoldering debris could be exposed to oxygen through cracks in the ground caused by drought conditions, or fire could be spreading through the trees' root systems, he explained.

Houses situated off Peabody Road were threatened during the first fire, which took place July 9. Ultimately, though, no structure damage has occurred during any of the five blazes.

A representative of Finger Lakes State Park, located just to the north of the fire zone, said the park has not been affected by the fires, either.

The Fire District has been trying to keep fires under control by using a burnline, which involves removing the vegetation surrounding an at-risk area. One was cut north of town to prevent further spread of fire.

"We may be dealing with this for several months until there's cooler weather and a substantial amount of rainfall," Blomenkamp said. 

Supervising editor is Hannah Cushman.

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