Weekend grass fires kill one, injure one in Southeast Missouri

Weekend grass fires kill one, injure one in Southeast Missouri

03 March 2010

published by www.semissourian.com

USA —  A Greenville, Mo., man is being treated at a St. Louis hospital for burns he suffered Saturday afternoon trying to put out a grass fire at his home.

The 53-year-old man was flown to St. John’s Mercy Hospital hours after Vernon Barnett, 81, had been flown to Elvis Presley Trauma Center in Memphis, Tenn., for treatment after he, too, was burned trying to put out a grass fire at his Broseley, Mo., home. Barnett died from his injuries Sunday.

Greenville fire chief Brent Shaffer said firefighters responded about 4 p.m. to a fire at a Route K residence.

“I think the neighbors were burning trash, and it got into [the man’s] yard,” Shaffer said. “He was trying to stomp it out and caught himself on fire.”

The man, whose name hasn’t been released, was trying to keep the fire from reaching his house, Shaffer said.

Shaffer said the man, who had burns on roughly 80 percent of his body, was flown to the St. Louis hospital.

Shaffer said he doesn’t know the severity of the burns.

Qulin assistant fire chief Don Doser said firefighters also found a small fire at Barnett’s residence on County Road 663.

When firefighters arrived, Doser said, Barnett was being treated by emergency medical services personnel.

According to deputy Michael Tinker’s report, Barnett had been severely burned.

Barnett told Tinker he had been burning brush.

“Barnett stated that he had turned around for a minute and that the fire had come up behind him and caught him on fire,” Tinker said. “Barnett stated that he tried to get his clothes off, but that the fire spread too quickly.”

Two men on the same weekend having their clothes catch fire is “very unusual, but it can happen,” explained Butler County fire chief Bob Fredwell.

“I don’t think people realize how dry it is; the ground is so wet underneath, but the top is freeze died,” Fredwell said. “The nights we’ve had and the days of low humidity” in the 20-percent range makes the fire danger “definitely very high.”

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