Dora and other area VFDs stay busy as dry, hazardous conditions continue

Two structures, a barn and a residence, were threatened – but saved, thanks to volunteer firefighters’ efforts – when a property owner who was burning brush near KK Highway southeast of Dora apparently lost control of the fire and it spread to nearby areas.

A fire in Mark Twain National Forest southeast of Dora was accidentally started Tuesday, Nov. 21, when a deer hunter drove into the forest and parked in tall, dry grass that ignited when it came into contact with the truck’s catalytic converter. Dora Volunteer Fire Department, Tecumseh VFD and the US Forest Service’s Fire Division spent several hours in rough conditions to bring the fire under control, but it continued to smolder, and by Monday, Nov. 27, had burned a total of 195 acres off County Road 374 near Rainbow Springs. Dora VFD posted this photo on its Facebook page to show the extremely smoky conditions and to note that the pictured truck, which carries 505 gallons, was refilled three times during the firefighting efforts.

This week’s sheriff’s report (see page 7) lists several fires that occurred during the past week as dry, hazardous and sometimes windy weather kept area fire departments busy.  

A fire that started accidentally on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in the Mark Twain National Forest southeast of Dora was still burning Monday, Nov. 27, said Dora Volunteer Fire Department chief Monte Shipley. A total of 195 acres had burned off County Road 374 near Rainbow Springs, he said. 

The wildfire is smoldering in downed timber and “slash” left behind by logging operations, a 2010 tornado and then a 2012 wildfire, Shipley said. There are no nearby structures, and US Forest Service Fire Division employees are monitoring it to make sure it hasn’t rekindled into a threat to nearby property owners. 

The fire started around noon Nov. 21 when a deer hunter drove into the national forest and the catalytic converter on his truck ignited the extremely dry tall grass. “He shut his truck off and then saw smoke boiling out from under it. He got the truck backed up and then tried to beat it out with his coat, but he couldn’t get it stopped,” Shipley said. 

The hunter either had no cell phone or no cell service; Shipley wasn’t sure which. “He drove to a nearby home and asked them to call 911. Then he returned to the scene to explain to the responding firefighters what had happened. 

A post of the Dora VFD Facebook page says the “end result was a very large fire that involved Dora Fire-Rescue, Tecumseh VFD and the Forest Service Fire Division,” which brought in a bulldozer to create fire breaks. “Suppression efforts were hampered by the inability to actually get to the fire due to downed trees and log piles as well as logging slash,” the post says.

The volunteer firefighters were on the scene with the forest service firefighters for several hours, Shipley said.

Two days later, Dora VFD, with mutual aid from Caney Mountain and Eastern Douglas VFDs, responded to a house fire on County Road 356 (see story, page 1). And two days after that, Dora firefighters responded to a wildland fire on the south side of KK highway east of the North Fork of the White River. 

That fire is described on the DVFD Facebook page as “an extensive fire with two structures endangered” and two landowners involved. It’s believed one of the property owners was burning brush when the fire got out of control. 

DVFD was dispatched at 2:48 p.m. and stayed on scene until 5:09 p.m., Shipley said. The structures – a barn and a residence – were protected, but the fire was difficult to put out because of all the brush, according to the DVFD post. 

Red Flag Warning

As extremely dry conditions and gusty winds continued Monday, the National Weather Service office in Springfield issued a “Red Flag Warning,” meaning a very high fire danger and a warning that outdoor burning was strongly discouraged. Drivers were especially cautioned not to throw lit cigarettes out of vehicle windows, and those towing trailers behind vehicles were urged to “make sure the chains are not dragging on the roadway, which can cause sparks and fires along the road.” 

Shipley joked that although the day was sunny and warm, the hazardous fire conditions had him “pacing the floor, waiting for a call. The nicer the weather, the worse it gets for us, seems like. That’s the life of a firefighter, I guess,” he said.


Ozark County Times

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