Windy conditions lead to busy day for Heartland Firefighters

Shannon Loftis snapped this photo of a huge field fire in Reynolds County, just off Route 21. (Photo courtesy Shannon Loftis)
Shannon Loftis snapped this photo of a huge field fire in Reynolds County, just off Route 21. (Photo courtesy Shannon Loftis)

By Heartland News

CAPE GIRARDEAU (KFVS) - It wasn't difficult to find a Heartland firefighter who was hard at work on Wednesday.

Field and grass fires from nearly every corner of the region kept firefighters and emergency crews busy most of the day and well into the night.  Many of the fires spread because of dry, windy conditions.

In Southeast Missouri, fires caused the evacuations of several homes in Carter and Reynolds Counties.  Firefighters in Reynolds County said much of the fires were 75% contained late Wednesday, but a portion of Route 21 would remain closed due to thick smoke.

A Doniphan police dispatcher said homes had been evacuated due to a field fire in west Ripley County, and crews had been busy fighting fires in other parts of the county as well.

Firefighters in Wayne County tackled an approximately two-mile long stretch of brush fire that reportedly started at a home then quickly spread, and callers to the KFVS newsroom reported that the town of Piedmont was full of smoke.  Another separate fire in Piedmont destroyed a home, but no one was hurt.

High winds reportedly caused a controlled burn to spin out of control in Fruitland, burning about 20 acres, and the wind certainly didn't help when some wood chips caught fire in a silo near Flickerwood Arena.

"Basically a fire got started, the wind fed it, and to the best of my knowledge, once it got started, there was just a lot of buildup that went on," said Flickerwood employee Gary Ludwig.

In Southern Illinois, KFVS received several unconfirmed reports of a large field fire near Thebes late Wednesday, and three departments responded to field fire just off Route 3 near Gorham.  A homeowner in Williamson County ended up destroying his barn and part of his house when he walked away after thinking he'd put out a fire, but the blaze reignited and ended up scorching more than an acre of ground.

Despite the windy conditions that tend to pose a high fire danger, only two districts had issued no-burn orders as of late Wednesday night.  Those were the McClure-East Cape Girardeau and Horseshoe Lake fire districts, both in Alexander County.

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