Monday, November 7, 2011

Mark Twain National Forest Firefighters Continue to Patrol 5,000 Acre Wild Fire Near Salem, Missouri

Smokey the BearImage via Wikipedia
 Nov.7, 2011
SALEM, Mo. –  Mark Twain National Forest firefighters continue to patrol and check the 5,000 acre Minninghaw wild fire near Salem, Missouri.
Mark Twain National Forest Fire Management Officer Jody Eberly said rain expected over the next two days should result in totally containing the Minninghaw wild fire by Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
“By containment, I mean the likelihood of the wild fire moving across the fire containment lines will be low,” Eberly said.
Two contract firefighting crews from Asheville, North Carolina are going home November 7, 2011. They arrived November 3, 2011 to supplement Mark Twain National Forest firefighting crews.
The Minninghaw Fire, 5,025 acres in size, started November 1, 2011.  It is located in southern Dent County near the Shannon County line, approximately 7 miles west of Bunker, Missouri. 
Completed and ongoing timber sales since the May 2009 derecho, or inland hurricane, helped reduce wild fire fuels on Mark Twain National Forest’s wild fires near Salem, Missouri.
Since May 2009, when the wind event cut a 15 to 20-mile wide swath across Dent, Shannon and Reynolds counties continuing across to Fredericktown, Missouri, forest fuels significantly increased from an average 2 tons per acre to 50-100 tons per acre.
“We’ve been fortunate to work with a number of area logging operators and small lumber mills to salvage the downed wood where we can get to it,” said Mark Twain National Forest District Ranger Thom Haines. “Even with ongoing and planned future timber sales, there’s still a lot of downed wood.”
From May 2009 to November 2011, Mark Twain National Forest’s Salem Ranger District completed 12 roadside salvage projects totaling approximately 4,100 acres, with another 2,100 acres through regular salvage sales. That’s twice the district’s annual average.
“Our primary focus has been public and firefighting safety,” Haines said. “We planned timber sales within 300 feet of roadways, which provided the public with safe roads to get to their property within Mark Twain National Forest. The 300-feet timber sale areas also created breaks to help prevent fire spreading.”
Approximately half of Mark Twain National Forest’s property boundaries include private land owners.
“It’s difficult to fight fires in derecho-damaged areas,” Haines said. “There are so many large trees on and suspended above the ground that our equipment cannot get through to build fire lines. It is also extremely unsafe for our firefighters.”

Haines said several more salvage sales are planned through 2013 to remove downed wood.
Several USDA Forest Service crews and forest partners also worked for months after the May 2009 derecho clearing Forest system roads, developed recreation areas and established trails to ensure the public’s safety, including hiking, horse-back riding and ATV trails.
Mark Twain National Forest is the largest public land manager in Missouri with 1.5 million acres in 29 counties in southern and central Missouri. Mark Twain National Forest’s mission is to continue to restore Missouri’s great outdoors and maintain a healthy, working forest.