Firefighters work to improve containment of Mark Twain National Forest fires

(Source: US Forest Service)
(Source: US Forest Service)

SALEM, MO (KFVS) - Firefighters continue to improve containment lines around two large wild fires on Mark Twain National Forest lands near Salem, Missouri on the Salem Ranger District. These wild fires are burning in heavy fuels created by the May 2009 Derecho wind event.

Two 20-person crews brought in from outside Missouri, along with Mark Twain National Forest firefighters, are using chainsaws to cut, lop and scatter limbs and downed trees along a 60-foot wide path on the side of the containment lines where wild fires are burning.

"The purpose of this work is to reduce fuels adjacent to containment lines that were completed on Thursday morning, November 3, 2011, around the two large fires," said Mark Twain National Forest Salem District Ranger Thom Haines. "We will continue to improve these containment lines over the next several days to help make sure these wild fires stay within these lines."

The largest wild fire, the Minninghaw Fire, 5,025 acres in size, started November 1, 2011. It is located in southern Dent County near the Shannon County line, approximately 7 miles west of Bunker, Missouri. Approximately 25 firefighters are working this wild fire.

The second wild fire, the West Fork Fire, 280 acres in size, started November 2, 2011. It is located approximately 3 miles northwest of Centerville, Missouri in Reynolds County, just north of the West Fork of the Black River. Approximately 25 firefighters are working this wild fire.

A third wild fire, the Substation Fire, just less than 6 acres in size, has been contained. This wild fire will continue to be patrolled and monitored by firefighting personnel.

Currently, there are more than 50 firefighters, three bulldozers and four engines assigned to the wild fires.

Officials say no homes are immediately threatened.

The National Weather Service forecasts partly sunny and drier over the weekend, with highs in the 60s and lows in the 50s. The next chance of rain is Monday.

Additional law enforcement personnel are assigned to patrol and investigate the suspected arson fires.

"We really need the help of the public in finding out who set these arson fires. If anyone has any information on who set these fires, please contact us," Haines said.

To report information, contact Mark Twain National Forest Salem Ranger District Office at 573-729-6656 or the toll free arson hotline at 1-800-392-1111.