Fire danger is still high

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Since last Thursday, firefighters with the Cassville Fire Protection District have been busy putting out grass fires and responding to residential blazes.

At around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Cassville fire-fighters were called to a brush fire off of Business 37 north of Barry Electric. According to Cassville Fire Chief Millard Andrews, the fire spread to 15 to 20 acres of underbrush, but fire crews were able to keep it away from six nearby homes. Only a storage building and winter wood pile were lost in the fire, which took about three hours to contain.

Cassville was assisted in fighting the fire by the Butterfield and Exeter fire departments and the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Earlier that morning at 3 a.m., Cassville firefighters responded to a house fire on Highway 37 south of the four-way intersection. The depart-ment was able to put out the flue fire quickly with very minimal structure damage and property loss.

A second grass fire broke out at 1 p.m. on Friday at property owned by Mike Hilburn a quarter mile west of Barry Electric. No damage was incurred by that blaze.

Although the two grass fires were located close to one another, the fires were unrelated, Andrews said. The fire chief did say both fires were caused by "people's carelessness."

On Saturday at 11 a.m., the Cassville crew was called out again to respond to a structure fire at the Chris and Gretchen Hartman home two miles south of Bates Corner on Highway 86. Firefighters fought the blaze for about six hours.

According to Andrews, the home and its contents were completely destroyed by the fire. The Hartmans were not home at the time of the fire, however three pets died in the fire. The American Red Cross dispatched a Disaster Action Team to help meet the family's immediate needs.

Even though rain fell over the weekend, Andrews warns that conditions remain extre-mely dry.

"Unless we get more significant rainfall, the burn ban will remain in effect," Andrews said.

"We are asking people to be extremely careful," Andrews said. "It's very volatile and everything is still powder keg dry."

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