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Sunday fires burn more than 50 acres in Boone County

Sunday, March 30, 2014 | 6:03 p.m. CDT; updated 6:14 p.m. CDT, Sunday, March 30, 2014
The Boone County Fire Department was called out to West Hatton Chapel Road on Sunday to put out a 25 acre fire. The fire started when a stuck pickup truck's catalytic converter made contact with the dry grass. No one was harmed and no other properties other than the truck were damaged.

COLUMBIA — Dry weather conditions helped spark a fire north of Columbia on Sunday, burning 25 acres, Batallion Chief and Boone County Fire Protection District spokesman, Gale Blomenkamp said.

The fire, located at 5220 W. Hatton Chapel Road, started when a pickup truck got stuck in the field, Blomenkamp said. Its catalytic converter made contact with the grass and the grass started to burn because it was so dry.

The scene of the fire was less than a mile from Boone County Fire District Station No. 13, so it didn't take crews long to respond, Blomenkamp said. Firefighters were on the scene within 10 minutes and had the fire contained within 45 minutes. Three grass rigs, two tankers and two engines — about 25 people in all — responded to the fire.

There were no injuries and the only severe damage the fire caused was to the pickup truck, which was gutted by the flames, Blomenkamp said.

Crews also managed to save a house and barn north of the fire on North Murray Lane, he said.

"Our main concern was what's in front of the fire," Blomenkamp said.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for eastern Missouri on Sunday afternoon. Red flag warnings are issued when low humidity and high wind speeds combine to make fires spread more easily.

"The biggest issue today is wind speed, because that's what's pushing the fire," Blomenkamp said.

He said red flag warning conditions were "absolutely" a contributor to the West Hatton Chapel Road fire. The warmer temperatures seen Sunday were not, though, he added.

Red flag warning conditions contributed to several other fires in Boone County Sunday afternoon. High wind speeds caused a controlled burn at 23301 N. Bourbon Road to burn out of control, Blomenkamp said. That fire took 45 minutes to contain and was expected to burn 15 to 20 acres.

A fire on West Akeman Bridge Road burned 10 acres of land, he said. Although the cause of that fire is not yet known, it is contained.

The red flag warning is set to remain in effect until 7 p.m. Sunday.

Supervising editor is Stephanie Ebbs.


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