Warm spring temperatures, dry conditions, and high winds will combine to create a heightened fire danger for much of the Lake of the Ozarks area for the next few days. 

Area fire protection districts warn their residents to monitor weather conditions and check with their fire districts before doing any open burning.

 



Warm spring temperatures, dry conditions, and high winds will combine to create a heightened fire danger for much of the Lake of the Ozarks area for the next few days. 
Area fire protection districts warn their residents to monitor weather conditions and check with their fire districts before doing any open burning.
“With the dry conditions and the wind, we are going to get an extreme danger in the next  day or two,” Sunrise Beach Fire Chief John Suellentrop warned. “I would say abstain from burning.”
As of Tuesday morning, the Osage Beach Fire Protection District stopped issuing burn permits, but there was no burn ban in effect on Tuesday.
“When we look at weather like we are going to see this week, we check it several times per day,” Osage Beach Fire Chief Jeff Dorhauer said. “If they are not calling for high winds, we may not issue permits because even moderate winds can cause a problem,”
Dorhauer and Suellentrop say their departments check fire danger conditions several times per day.  A burn ban can be issued any time and lifted at any time.
“There is no limitation on a burn ban. We review it locally (in Sunrise Beach) because we have gone back to our own system for issuing burn permits,” Suellentrop said.  The Sunrise Beach Fire Protection District started monitoring its own burn permit system when it opened its new headquarters in 2004.
The Gravois Fire Protection District does not issue burn bans.
Its residents, like those of other fire districts, are required to notify the fire district of their plans to burn.  During a time of high fire risk, officials discourage any type of burning.
“Anyone that sets a fire that escapes their control and gets on to someone else’s property—they are liable for damage,” Gravois Fire Chief Ed Hancock said.
If a fire occurs at a time that a burn advisory has been advertised, the fire starter can be prosecuted for negligent burning if the fire causes damage to someone else’s property.
Conditions this spring offer an added element of danger because a string of harsh winters created an unusually high amount of burnable material on the ground.
“A large amount of ground cover from several years ago with the ice storms is still there. It just makes it all the more dangerous,” Dorhauer said.
Heavy rains combined with the fallen timber to offer more fuel for brush fires.
“We have had a lot of wet seasons and a lot of good green up.  We’ve got a good pile of leaf litter, a lot of timber laying, that is reaching a point now that is ready to burn,” Hancock said.
Suellentrop explained that the heavy vegetation creates burnable material as it dries and decomposes.
“You get a nitrogen buildup in the soil.  If you watch a ground cover fire in the spring, it has an orange color to it and that is a consequence of that nitrogen buildup near the soil,” Suellentrop said.
“The surface fuels are dried out and anything that would ignite it, whether its a person burning leaves, a welder, a dropped cigarette, if it gets into those surface fuels it is going to ignite it,” Hancock explained.
The Camden County Office of Emergency Management anticipates that the fire risk will continue at least through Thursday.

Contact this reporter at rance.burger@lakesunonline.com