Anyone who thought the rain showers that hit the area on Saturday were enough to break the drought needed only look to the south of Carthage on Tuesday and see the huge plume of smoke to know the drought was still going strong.
Carthage firefighters called in help from Sarcoxie, Duenweg and the Missouri Department of Conservation to help battle a large grass and brush fire near County Road 130 and Cimarron Road just east of Fidelity.
The fire got into about 70 round hay bales stored on a farm, and burned close to several homes and outbuildings along Cimarron Road before firefighters were able to push it back. No structures were lost in the fire.
Carthage Fire Chief Chris Thompson said the rain over the weekend was not enough to make it safe to burn outdoors.
“We think we got a little bit of rain, everyone just assumes that its OK to burn,” Thompson said. “The fact is we’re more than 10 inches below normal on rainfall and at most what we got this weekend was two inches and two inches on hard compact dirt is not a two-inch soaking rain. That two inches equates to be not very much moisture at all.”
The National Weather Service office in Springfield said the storm dropped two inches of rain on Carthage on Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for parts of Jasper County on Saturday, sending the thousands of people attending Marian Days for cover, according to Carthage Police Chief Greg Dagnan.
A microburst associated with the storms caused damage and knocked out power to Jasper for some time overnight Saturday and Sunday.
On Tuesday, firefighters burned off a dry field adjacent to the burning hay bales at County Road 130 and Cimarron Road to prevent ashes from those bales from starting more uncontrolled fires.
Thompson said it is nearly impossible to extinguish a fire in bales of hay because the hay is so dense and flammable.
Thompson said Tuesday’s fire was the largest in the Carthage Fire Protection District so far this summer.
Firefighters in the Diamond Rural Fire Protection District battled another fire in about 150 hay bales in their district south of Interstate 44.
L&P Branch 1 fire
A fire in an exhaust stack at Leggett & Platt’s Branch 1 plant on West Central in Carthage forced the evacuation of the plant on Tuesday.
Carthage Fire Chief Chris Thompson said the fire occurred in some kind of oven in the plant. It was the second time in less than two months that the department had responded to a fire like that at the plant.
He said flames could be seen shooting out of an exhaust stack at the plant when firefighters arrived.
Page 2 of 2 - Thompson said the fire was contained to the machine and damage was minor, including some warping on the metal roof.