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Type 1 heavy helicopter filling up with water to combat Carty Wildfire. Photo courtesy of Troy Crowe/U.S. Forest Service.

Type 1 heavy helicopter filling up with water to combat Carty Wildfire. Photo courtesy of Troy Crowe/U.S. Forest Service.

Service Firefighters Assist in 2,145 acre Carty Wildfire

Most people associate wildfires with western states and rightfully so as each summer wildland firefighters battle blazes throughout the west ranging in size from just a few acres to several thousand acres. Midwestern states however have their own wildfire battles to fight each year. These wildfires may not make national headlines, but they threaten valuable resources and property just the same.

One incident, the Carty Wildfire, occurred May 3, 2015 in the rugged Ozark hill country of the Mark Twain National Forest near Black, Missouri. The Carty Wildfire originated on a portion of the National Forest severely impacted by the May 2009 Super Derecho, an intense weather event with wind speeds in excess of 90 mph that affected areas from western Kansas to eastern Kentucky. Southern Missouri was heavily impacted resulting in large swaths of tree blow downs in the path of the storm. Six years later, numerous dead trees combined with above average temperatures, low relative humidity and gusty winds which frequently lead to dangerous wildfire scenarios.

Firefighters from the Mark Twain National Forest began the initial attack on the Carty Wildfire, but as relative humidity dropped into the lower 30’s and wind gusts reached 25 miles per hour, the wildfire quickly spread igniting dead derecho blow down materials and live fuels as well. By the next day, the fire had reached 678 acres, jumped a county road and was threatening over 30 structures including homes and a nearby youth ranch. Mark Twain National Forest requested additional resources to control the fire. Response included two wildland engine crews from the Service’s Missouri Private Lands Office, Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge: all joined over 100 firefighters from Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri Department of Conservation, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Gateway Arch & Jefferson Expansion National Memorial, Shawnee National Forest, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, City of Ellington, and Reynolds County in battling the blaze. With the aid of retardant and water drops, firefighters were able to establish control lines and by May 9 the wildfire was contained at 2,145 acres with no reported injuries or incidents and no structures damaged or lost.

Problematic wildfires occurring in areas affected by the 2009 Super Derecho have become common for southern Missouri. Since 2011, Service firefighters from the Missouri Private Lands Office have assisted Mark Twain National Forest on four separate wildfire incidents and engine crews from Neal Smith, Port Louisa and Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuges have assisted on numerous additional wildfires. As a partner in conservation, the Service will continue to assist fellow agencies with conservation and protection of natural resources to include wildland fire response.

By Chris Woodson
Missouri Private Lands Office

Carty Wildfire burn-out operations led by U.S. Forest Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel. Photo by Chris Woodson/USFWS.

Carty Wildfire burn-out operations led by U.S. Forest Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service personnel. Photo by Chris Woodson/USFWS.

Derecho blow down fuel loading and fire intensity resulted in consumption of live deciduous fuels on Carty Wildfire. Photo courtesy of Troy Crowe/U.S. Forest Service.

Derecho blow down fuel loading and fire intensity resulted in consumption of live deciduous fuels on Carty Wildfire. Photo courtesy of Troy Crowe/U.S. Forest Service.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildland engine patrolling the north line of the Carty Wildfire.  Photo By Chris Woodson/USFWS.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildland engine patrolling the north line of the Carty Wildfire. Photo By Chris Woodson/USFWS.

 

Last updated: June 4, 2015