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Fire crews busy battling brush fires after extreme drought in Ozarks

Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 9:10 PM CDT
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PURDY, Mo. (KY3) - With little rain and extreme wind, brush fires have kept firefighters in the Ozarks busy.

“I could not tell you the last time we had rain," said Purdy Fire Chief, Nick Mercer.

Several counties have extreme drought conditions in southwest Missouri.

“In our district we’re completely covered in the D3 area," said Mercer.

Mercer said with the drought, plus the extreme wind, a fire can start in seconds.

”I think we need several inches of rain in order to come out of the severe drought we’re in currently," said Mercer.

Mercer said it’s important to not burn leaves, trash or have any kind of fire in these conditions.

“I recommend absolutely no burning whatsoever. The slightest ash-blowing to a controlled burn pile can get out of control very quickly," said Mercer.

His firefighters are prepared.

“Spacing out apparatus. There’s people taking brush trucks home if they’re available, so they can immediately get in that brush truck and go directly to the fire instead of responding to the scene. Even our simple utility trucks we’re adding skid units in the back of those. So we can multiply the fleet in short term so we can fight brush fires more effectively," said Mercer.

Mercer said, even though some brush fires may be small, they can easily spread.

“People can lose their livelihood honestly. A farmer can lose his entire hay storage for the year if people aren’t careful," said Mercer.

Mercer says right now his district is under a burn ban. If anyone is caught burning anything, they can be fined.

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