RIPLEY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - Fire management personnel at the Mark Twain National Forest are on high alert for wildfires due to current conditions.
According to the Forest Service, prescribed burning on the forest is usually concluded by December due to high moisture levels and cold weather. This year the window for prescribed burning has closed due to low fuel moistures and a persistent drought.
This has also created the potential for active-to-extreme fire behavior across southern Missouri.
Personnel asks that campers are cautious with campfires, especially when dispersed camping.
Ripley County has already gone into a burn ban due to the extreme dryness.
A county's burn ban applies to Forest Service lands within that county's boundaries as well; so campfires are currently not allowed in Ripley County on the Mark Twain National Forest.
It is also recommended that landowners adjacent to the Mark Twain National Forest avoid burning leaves or other debris while the drought continues.
In the last week, firefighters with the Mark Twain National Forest responded to more than 20 wildfires, according to the Forest Service.
"We are expecting conditions to get worse before they get better," stated Jim Cornelius, Fire Management Officer for the Mark Twain National Forest. Although there are currently no Forest-wide restrictions on campfires, caution is advised. "Until we get some significant moisture, we will be in extremely dry conditions; so please be safe with fire right now."
Please contact your local fire department if you have questions about what the conditions are like in your area before burning.