Following a summer of dry, severe drought conditions, the Neosho area was once again experiencing increased fire risk on Thursday.
The National Weather Service out of Springfield issued a red flag warning Thursday, noting that parts of Southwest Missouri and extreme Southeast Kansas were experiencing “significant fire weather risk.”
The red flag warning was in effect for Thursday only, though if conditions remain the same, Newton County Emergency Management Director Gary Roark said he would not be surprised if another warning were issued today.
“Normally this is the time of year they issue red flag warnings,” Roark said. “It’s the combination of high winds, low humidity and dry conditions.”
The National Weather Service’s red flag warning is meant to warn residents and fire department personnel that current weather may result in extreme burning conditions. The warning can be issued when a geographical area has been in a dry spell or the National Fire Danger Rating System is high to extreme.
Roark said current conditions could be worse, but recommends that residents use caution and refrain from outside burning.
“We’re a little bit better off from the rainfall we had last week,” Roark said. “Right now, with the winds that we’ve been having, I’d recommend that people not do outside burning.”
While Thursday afternoon saw a significant fire risk, as of press time Thursday night the National Weather Service was only forecasting a limited risk level for Friday and Saturday. The current status can be checked at their website, http://www.crh.noaa.gov/sgf.
Mike Eads, Neosho fire chief, said the department hasn’t seen any increase in fires lately, though he strongly suggests that, red flag warning or not, residents always check with their local fire department before doing any kind of burning.
One of the popular reasons for outside burning right now is to rid the yard of leaves. The City of Neosho does not have a ban against leaf burning and residents do not need a permit for fires less than three feet in diameter and two feet in height.
Still, the city asks that Neosho residents not only check with their local department beforehand, but also follow a list of regulations when burning.
The city asks that residents burn only yard waste, have a fire extinguisher or hose present, constantly attend the fire, and keep it a minimum of 25 feet from any structure.
Those with questions can contact the Neosho Fire Department at 451-8021.