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Brush fires break out near St. Louis after dry conditions

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Brush fires popped up across the St. Louis region Friday in Missouri and Illinois. There were new warnings about elevated fire risks. The High Ridge Fire Protection District even issued a burn ban until further notice.

In Illinois, firefighters are battling a wildfire near the Great River Road near Elsah, north of Alton. Around the same time, there was a 12-15 acre fire in the B.K. Leach Conservation Area near Elsberry, MO, in Lincoln County.

It seemed no matter which direction you looked you’d see smoke rising in the distance against the blue sky.
Though the National Weather Service's Red Flag warning for extreme fire risk had actually expired, firefighters were still waving the red flags.

“It looked like it was by my land. So I hopped in my car and hurried up and got home to make sure because the fire department went down that way, too,” said John Skurat of Foley, who rushed to the Lincoln County fire scene.

It turned out it was at the conservation area near Elsberry. Fire consumed after acre of dried out brush, with no structures or private lands in immediate danger.

“We’ve got about 12-15 acres burning at this time. Fire is contained,” said Capt. Eric Graham of the Elsberry Fire Protection District. “The north side of the fire is going to be allowed to burn because there’s no hazards to the north. It’s call contained so we’re going to allow it to continue to burn…we’ve got a lot of fires burning around us, there’s at least 3 other fires around us. We’re just trying to keep a handle on it. These winds, the Red Flag conditions just make a real havoc on us at this time of the year.”

Firefighters could see fires in the distance that hadn’t been reported yet. Red Flag warning or not, they said let common sense rule.

“We’re allowed to burn on our property. But it’s good for somebody from the fire department or government department to find out what it is, if it’s green or red, because this could happen,” Skurat said.

“Yesterday we had 2 fires, people burning trash, both of them had other property damage because the fire got away from them because the wind jumped…and even without a red flag warning, we know it’s dry, we know we haven’t rain in a while, we know the winds are up,” said Capt. Graham.

People could notice smoke through the night, he said, but with roadway to the west and the Mississippi River and river sloughs to the east, there was not much for the fire to burn aside from acres of dried out brush.

Follow me on Twitter: @andybankertv

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