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After more than a week of triple-digit temperatures, low humidity, and no significant rainfall for an extended period of time, vegetation had become very dry and it only took a spark from a brush hog blade hitting a rock to start the fire that threatened homes and forced the evacuation of some residences.
Goodhope Fire Chief Richard Mitchell said five residences were threatened by the fire, but no homes were lost.
Trucks and personnel from the City of Ava, Ava Rural, Squires and Goodhope fire departments in Douglas County joined firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and Missouri Department of Conservation, as well as fire personnel from Taney, Christian, Webster and many other counties in combating the fire. Units came from as far away as Joplin and Dade and Polk counties to assist with the fire.
Initially, Chadwick and Bradleyville fire departments responded to the blaze which rapidly grew because of the extremely dry conditions.
Bradleyville Fire Chief Tom Todd said his crew almost had the fire out when it caught new life and suddenly burned out of control.
State and federal agencies responded with bulldozers and even aircraft, along with dozens of personnel, in an effort to contain the fire that was not brought under control until sometime Friday.
Fire departments that responded from this area were staged near homes to protect private property while others attempted to contain the wildfire by building fire lines and backfires.
Numerous law enforcement personnel were also on hand to warn residents whose homes were threatened, and EMS units were dispatched to the area to respond to medical emergencies. At least one person was taken to the hospital from the fire scene on Thursday, but no other information was available as to the identity of the individual or the extent of the emergency.
Reggie Bray, with the U.S. Forest Service, said 1,212 acres burned in Taney and Christian counties, including 791 acres on private property and 421 acres in the Mark Twain National Forest.
The fire, which started near Martin Road on the Taney-Christian county line, will go on record as the “Martin Fire.”
Fire Danger Remains High
Firefighters – and other residents of the area – were grateful for the rain showers received over the weekend. Although it is much too early to say the drought has been broken, it looks as if the weather pattern may be changing, as temperatures have dropped into the low 90s this week.
Even those who did get rainfall during the past week should not assume the fire danger has passed. Grass and vegetation that died during the extended drought will remain dead, and continues to pose a serious fire danger.
Several rural fire departments responded to brush fires on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, and remain on high alert for continued fire danger.