March 23, 2010

Missouri state fire marshal urges caution with open burning

Controlled burns that got out of hand have led to three deaths and one injury in Missouri in the last month

State Fire Marshal Randy Cole is urging caution around controlled burns, which can lead to wildland fires, after three deaths and one injury in Missouri in the last month.
"We want the public to understand these types of fires can be very dangerous, can quickly flare up and spread or change direction," said State Fire Marshal Cole.  "Caution with these types of fires will ensure public safety and reduce the risk to Missouri firefighters and emergency responders.  Last spring, a Missouri firefighter collapsed and died of a heart attack while at the scene of a wildland fire.”
Cole says spring and fall are the peak times of year for firefighters to respond to wildland fires that start out as controlled burns.  The fires all too often result in property damage, injury and even death.  The victims can be neighbors who are not even involved in the controlled burns. 
"The majority of these fires can be prevented if citizens use common sense and are mindful of weather conditions," Cole said.  "Shifting breezes, warm temperatures and low humidity create the potential for real trouble.”
The Office of the State Fire Marshal has been notified of the following recent deadly fires in Missouri that resulted from controlled burns that got out of control.                 ·    Feb. 27, one death in Broseley, Mo. ·    March 3, one death in Lebanon, Mo. ·    March 9, one death in Pilot Grove, Mo.
In addition, one person was injured in Greenville, Mo. on Feb. 27
The Office of the State Fire Marshal urges Missourians to reduce the risk of uncontrolled wildland fires by avoiding open burning when weather conditions increase the likelihood of a fire burning out of control.  Before conducting any open burning residents should also be aware of local restrictions on such activity.  The Office of the State Fire Marshal also recommends these safety tips:   
·     Keep fire a minimum of 75 feet from all buildings ·     Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start the fire ·     Do not leave a fire unattended ·     Have fire extinguishment materials on hand, including a water supply, shovels  and rakes ·     Be prepared to extinguish your fire if the winds pick up ·     DO NOT delay a call for help – call the fire department immediately at the first sign of the fire getting out of control
Cole also noted that property damage caused by open burning can result in criminal prosecution related to negligent or careless burning.


For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail