ST. LOUIS -The St. Louis region experienced gusty winds on Thursday. Those winds are creating a big concern for firefighters, especially given our recent dry weather.

“Everything is drying quickly and rapidly,” said Assistant Chief Steve Rinehart with the Maryland Heights Fire District.

A Red Flag Warning has been issued for much of the region, meaning the threat is high for fires to start and spread due to the gusty winds, low humidity, and dry fuels like leaves and grass.

“It gives us a little more of a heads up that when we get that call for a brush fire. That brush fire can turn into something substantial rather quickly,” Rinehart said.

Rinehart said you should not have any outdoor burning, like a fire pit.

“All it takes is an ember to get outside that fire pit and land in this dry fuel we’re talking about,” he said. “Then you add this wind behind it. Next thing you know, we’ve got a yard on fire.”

Skip mowing or trimming dry grass because the tools could spark. Also, don’t drive on dry grass or fields.

“Whenever you have an internal combustion engine backfires, that sort of thing. Anything that provides an ignition source,” Rinehart said.

Rinehart also encouraged you to properly dispose of lit cigarette butts.

“On a day like today, we have brush fires along the side of the highways simply because someone threw a lit cigarette out,” he said.

At the first sign of a fire getting out of control, call 911.

The winds will be gusty again on Friday, so the fire danger will remain high. What we need is more rain, but that isn’t in the forecast at this time.