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      High fire danger in mid-Missouri

      Fire departments in mid-Missouri are urging residents not to burn and take other precautions in the wake of an increased risk of wildfires.

      Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a "red flag" warning for mid-Missouri.

      "Today's the perfect day," said Steve Cearlock of the Cole County Fire Protection District. "You have brown cover on the ground, which is all dry. You have high winds and really low humidity."

      "So if a fire starts whether by cigarette butt or careless burning, it could spread really fast," Cearlock said.

      "It's been crazy this year. We've had numerous natural cover fires. A week ago Saturday, we had over 17 in one day."

      Cole County fire officials are urging people not to burn during dry conditions. In Jefferson City, Chief Jason Turner said they've had to deal with four illegal burns since burning season ended. Each illegal burn, Turner said, is a chance for disaster.

      "If somebody says 'don't burn', don't burn," Turner said. "There is no reason to burn anything during these conditions, and I am sure that time and the right weather will allow people to do that at a different date."

      Turner is urging anyone who sees a wildfire or accidentally starts one to call 911 immediately.