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Fires Destroy Mo. Mobile Homes

March 9, 2000

CAMDENTON, Mo. (AP) _ Raging brush fires fanned by strong winds destroyed about 40 mobile homes and barns in central Missouri. Firefighters believe the cause was careless burning.

``It looked like blowtorches all over the place,″ said Kenny Kennedy, a resident whose trailer was spared west of Camdenton.

One firefighter was hospitalized after falling and becoming engulfed in flames Wednesday. He was in good condition today, a hospital spokesman said.

As many as 30 fires were reported across Camden County on Wednesday, but had died down or been brought under control before dawn today, said Cpl. Steve Eden, emergency communications director.

``But since then, the wind has kicked up again,″ he said, adding that six scattered fires were burning at midday. The fires were likely sparked by careless burning, Eden said.

Exhausted firefighters were sent back into the field in rural Camden County and surrounding areas as the wind picked up. It reached 50 mph Wednesday.

Eden said some houses were destroyed near the Lake of the Ozarks, a popular tourist area. Some homes were evacuated Wednesday.

Fires also were reported in Morgan, Miller, Phelps, Laclede, Boone and Dallas counties. Most had been contained or extinguished by today.

The fires were a rude welcome for Jeff Asel, 36, who moved near the Lake of the Ozarks from Michigan a week ago and opened a marina. He stayed up all night helping fight fires.

``It was quite an introduction,″ he said. ``I was driving a fire truck ... and helping with a fire hose.″

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