High fire danger along roads in extreme drought - KMOV.com

High fire danger along roads in extreme drought

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- When the temperatures are this hot, and the drought is this severe, it doesn't take much to start an uncontrolled fire - say firefighters.

"All this dry grass, here, is giving it a lot of fuel," said Ron Harder of the Rock Community Fire Protection District.

"Just a little bit of heat to this can ignite grass and spread very quickly."

It's not clear exactly how many grass fires and brush fires are started by cigarettes.  Some recent fires have been attributed to a spark from a tire blowout, or a train passing through.  Others, say officials, are most likely caused by someone tossing a lit cigarette from a moving car.

Illinois State Police Spokeswoman Monique Bond said troopers in Illinois are on "heightened alert".  Bond says a ISP issued a directive before the 4th of July to ask troopers to watch for illegal fireworks and be aware of the drought conditions and fire danger caused by incendiary devices, like cigarettes.

"They know they should be very aware and vigilant about that," said Bond.

The Missouri Highway Patrol says it's also watching closely for these violations, which break littering laws.

"Talking to some of the troopers out in the counties, they're seeing more littering tickets come through from that type of thing," said Sgt. Al Nothum of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

"We all know a lit cigarette thrown out the window can create a huge fire a long the interstate," added Nothum.

Indiana State Police is getting national attention by promising to take a "zero tolerance" approach and threatening fines of up to $10,000.

Indiana, like much of north America, is in a drought. 

The entire News 4 viewing area's drought classification changed from "moderate" to "severe" last week and remains "severe" this week.  Forecasts show conditions will worsen.

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