Gov. Jay Nixon today ordered the activation of the State Emergency Operations Center in response to fires and a prolonged period of record heat and low precipitation across Missouri. The Governor also ordered the Missouri National Guard to ready the assets and resources it would need to support firefighting operations in Missouri. This Missouri Division of Fire Safety is assisting with the coordination of resources.
In Iron County, Mo., approximately 550 acres of the Mark Twain National Forest already have burned, and approximately 2,000 additional acres are at risk. U.S. Forest Service personnel and assets are fighting the fire on federal land. Missouri’s Fire Mutual Aid Program is deploying additional personnel, trucks and tankers to the area to protect homes and other structures near Bixby, Mo.
“Extremely hot and dry conditions across our state have created conditions that are prone for fires as we have seen in several counties in recent days,” Gov. Nixon said. “Local, state and federal personnel are working together to fight significant fires in Iron County, and my administration will make available any resources necessary to combat this fire. As we approach the Fourth of July holiday, I urge Missourians to take precautions to prevent fires, check on their neighbors and stay safe.”
Under the Governor’s order, state agencies will staff the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate response efforts and resources, including providing temporary shelters should evacuations become necessary. State agencies that can be activated for duty under the order include: Missouri Department of Public Safety, State Emergency Management Agency, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Division of Fire Safety, Department of Agriculture, Department of Conservation, Department of Corrections, Department of Health and Senior Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Social Services, Department of Transportation and the Office of Administration.
Because of the forecast of prolonged heat and low precipitation, Gov. Nixon encourages Missourians to remember the following fire safety tips:
- Check with local officials before burning or using fireworks. Where burning or fireworks are permitted, use extreme caution.
- Use caution with outdoor cooking, and dispose of cigar and cigarette butts properly. These are the sources of many accidental fires.
- In fields and other areas with heavy grasses, use caution when driving or operating farm equipment. A number of fires have started as a result of dry, tall grass coming into contact with hot mufflers or sparks from equipment. Use extra caution, and don’t delay in calling the local fire department if a fire starts.
- The Missouri State Highway Patrol reminds motorists that smoke can severely or completely reduce visibility, creating very dangerous driving conditions. Because of dry conditions across the state, Missouri has already experienced several grass and brush fires that were triggered by motor vehicle crashes or careless handling of ignition sources. When these fires occur near a roadway, smoke from the fires often creates hazardous driving conditions. When smoke affects visibility on a roadway, drivers must exercise extreme caution. The best decision is not to drive in smoke.
For more information on fire and heat safety, visit MO.gov.