- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Nearly 100 firefighters are battling a wildfire that has burned more than 1,100 acres in southern Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest.

Forest officials say the blaze was discovered Sunday and continues to grow. About 30 homes and other structures are at risk, officials said Thursday, but no buildings have been damaged so far and no one has been hurt.

The fire is in a heavily forested area on public and private land, about two miles southwest of the small town of Black, Missouri, 115 miles southwest of St. Louis. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Two helicopters are being used to try and douse the fire from the air. Firefighters from as far away as Minnesota are on the scene.

Weather hasn’t made things any easier. Conditions have been hot, windy and dry all week, though rain is in the forecast for the weekend.

“We still have a lot of work to do to get this fire contained and under control. We need some help from the weather to wet down the fuel and really put this fire out,” said Tim Bray, who is heading the firefighting effort.

To make matters more difficult, strong winds in 2009 knocked down several trees. The dead lumber is fuel for the blaze, and makes it difficult to construct a fire line, the Forest Service said.

Forest officials say it will be several more days before the fire is under control.

People traveling through the area are urged to be cautious because smoke is so thick that visibility is decreased. Two Reynolds County roads are closed because of the fire.

The biggest wildfire on record at the Mark Twain National Forest is believed to be a 2011 blaze that burned nearly 5,000 acres.

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On the Web:

Mark Twain National Forest: https://www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf

Map of the fire area: https://gacc.nifc.gov/eacc/dispatch_centers/MOCC/information/fire_information.htm

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