A wildfire at Pershing State Park has been contained after six local and state departments worked to battle the blaze.
The fire started Monday evening in a remote area of the park. It is unknown how the fire started.
Late Monday evening Brookfield dispatch received numerous calls from passing motorists on Highway 36 of a large amount of smoke at Pershing State Park in Laclede. A call was made to Meadville Fire Chief Mike Holcer to look at the possible fire. Holcer along with park superintendent Tom Woodward traveled to a remote corner of the park to view the smoke.
According to Woodward, it would have been treacherous to do anything at that time.
“The area where the fire was first noticed would have made it hazardous for employees,” Woodward said. “There was very limited access and no way to address the fire at that time.”
Starting at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning three Missouri Department of Resources crews, a crew from the Missouri Department of Conservation and Meadille Volunteer Fire Department worked to fight the fire. That afternoon Laclede Fire Department joined the crews as well. By 10 p.m. the fire had been contained.
Woodward spent Wednesday checking some hot spots, which he thought were possible fire risks. As of Thursday the fire has been completely contained. The Riparian trail is currently closed for safety concerns, but will reopen soon.
Although the fire had been raging in one area of the park, campers and park visitors were not asked to leave. The park stayed open during the fire and remains open currently.
Woodward said campers were alerted about the fire.
“We told the campers they would be safe,” Woodward said. “We did advise them there would be a lot of smoke in the campground. At no time did we feel that our visitors’ safety was compromised.”
The fire burned roughly 1,100 acres of the approximately 5,400-acre park. According to Woodward it is the largest fire he has witnessed at the park in his 12 years there.
According to Woodward, it’s unknown how the fire started.
“We know the fire started in the southwest part of the park, but we’re not sure how it started,” Woodward said. “It’s a fairly desolate area, there’s no camping that takes place there.”