Outdoor Burning/Brush Fire Safety

image of a smoke-filled fire

High winds, warm temperatures, low relative humidity levels and drought conditions greatly increase the risk of wildfires.

Brush and wildland fires can present a serious threat to lives and property. High winds, warmer temperatures and drought conditions make fire seasons progressively worse. The incidence of brush fires rose dramatically in Missouri during the summer of 2012, when extreme drought conditions persisted as the state experienced the worst drought conditions in decades. According to the National Fire Protection Association, across the U.S., wildfires have burned over 59 million acres in the past decade.

While Missouri is not known for the large wildland fires that regularly affect some western states, dry conditions, low humidity and strong winds can often combine to create dangerous brush and wildland fires. Arid and windy conditions can lead to wildfire dangers at any time of year. In 2010, three Missourians died in February and March when fires set to burn debris and brush got out of control and rapidly spread.

To prevent the spread of fires started to burn brush and debris, keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Check for local burn bans or restrictions before conducting any open burning.
  • 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.

Two programs that encourage local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, firefighters and others are the Firewise Communities Program and the Ready, Set, Go Program.