Trash fire gets out of control, burns hundreds of acres

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STOUTLAND, Mo. Firefighters from a dozen departments spent the evening putting out a wildfire that covered roughly 250 acres in rural Camden County.
It happened north of Stoutland. Firefighters say hot ashes from trash that someone was burning on Wednesday sparked the fire, and the wind quickly spread it out of control.
More than ten buildings were in the fire’s path, including several houses, but firefighters were able to save all of them.
While firefighters battled the wind and flames, several property owners watched their land get torched.
“You hope for the best you know. You just kind of do what you can and pray,” said Tracy Brown.
He says the damage to his property is minimal compared to some of his neighbors.
“Probably about ten acres of my property, and the vast majority is my neighbor’s. I think it burned about sixty of his,” he said.
Brown says it’s the largest brush fire he’s ever seen in the area.
“That’s a pretty crazy deal, I mean it could have been bad real quick,” he said.
Phillip Pitts is the fire chief for the Lebanon Rural Fire Protection District.
He says it took it took hours to get the fire contained, and they were low on manpower because many of the departments are volunteer.
“When you see a lot of sage grass, and things like that, the fire can grow very rapidly. It’s hard for even experienced crews to handle,” he explained.
Pitts says it all started because someone was burning trash the day before.
“The fire will smolder, sometimes even for several days. Depending on what type of material’s burning. And you may not know it, and it you didn’t extinguish it with a water source, or something like that, it could be 24-48 hours later, you could see the problem,” he said.
Pitts says you should avoid burning all together this time of year.
“Everybody wants to get out and burn in February, because they’re tired of being cooped up. But they don’t understand, with the lower humidity, and the warmer temperatures, a southerly wind comes, and that’s what actually brings it up to Missouri. So, we see really really dry, windy days. And it’s not good days to burn, anytime around that,” he said.
Luckily, no one was injured in the fire, and no one lost cattle or livestock.