Gov. Nixon orders emergency operations in response to Missouri fires

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by Eric Lorenz / KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on June 29, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 29 at 4:53 PM

(KMOV.com) -- Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Friday ordered the activation of the state’s emergency operations center in response to fires, record heat and low precipitation across the state.

The governor also put Missouri National Guard on standby in case they were called to support firefighting operations.

In Iron County, Missouri, approximately 550 acres of the Mark Twain National Forest have already burned.  Missouri’s Fire Mutual Aid Program is deploying additional personnel, trucks and tankers to the area to protect homes and other structures near Bixby, Missouri.

“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 be needed. 

Because of the forecast of prolonged heat and low precipitation, Governor 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.

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