(EASTERN TANEY COUNTY, Mo.--02/15/18) Bone dry conditions in the Ozarks have lead to the rapid spread of a wildfire in Taney County.
The fire dubbed the Rozell Fire, was first reported early this afternoon as flames spread quickly on hillsides filled with dry brush and grass and fanned by gusty winds in high heat and low humidity.
Joe Koloski, US Forrest Service, tells FOX5,"It’s windy today, we had some pretty strong sustained winds with gusts up into the 20’s and that always makes it a difficult situation because that will push fire around."
He says the fire spewed thick smoke and ash into the air along highway and State Route 125 near Reuter. Koloski adds the fire forced the Mark Twain School District to dismiss classes early.
"Some of the fuels this fire is burning in are pretty light fuel so fire can move pretty quickly and spread pretty quickly through those fuels."
More than a hundred firefighters were working tirelessly to try and contain a fast moving brush fire as they aided by water dropping aircraft, battling the blaze, which has scorched more than 500 acres.
"We’re using a number of indirect tactics. So we have had a helicopter working on the south end of the fire doing bucket drops, dropping water on that edge of the fire to stop the spread to the south. We also had an air tanker that came in and dropped fire retardant on that edge of the fire as well."
There has been on report of one home fully engulfed by flames, but no injuries reported on the fire lines.
"Our crews now have split in two and they’re working opposite directions on this fire actually back burning from highways, from Highway 125 and Highway 160 to allow fire to back into the main fire and control it that way."
Fire officials say the fire is still under investigation and still not yet determine the cause.
"There will be an investigation into the cause after it’s safe for investigators to go in and do that. With today’s conditions it’s likely to be human caused in someway."