During a typical year, Missouri has a spring fire season and fall fire season. Summer is usually a downtime for forest fires. That’s not the case this year.
In June and July alone, there were 50 wildfires that burned more than 4,000 acres in the Mark Twain National Forest. Compare that to an average year, when about 5,000 acres burn over 12 months.
Rick Case is the assistant forest fire management officer for the Mark Twain National Forest. He says fire managers are keeping a close eye on forests near Salem and Fredericktown, in south central and southeast Missouri. A wind storm dropped many old trees there in 2009.
“Those areas are a huge concern with us right now because they are very hard to put out. Real large logs laying all over ground, basically, and they’re carrying fire. We’ve had only one during our little outbreak, but it was very intense because I was there. It was, it was hot," said Case.
Case said lightning, accidents, and arson are all leading culprits. But he can blame at least a dozen fires on lawnmowers. They strike rocks that create a spark that leads to wildfires.