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Damage from the massive October 22, 2022 fire in rural Wooldridge (photo courtesy of 939 the Eagle listener Stephen McBee of

Hartzler: Blaze in mid-Missouri’s Wooldridge started in a combine

Missouri Governor Mike Parson and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) brief reporters and Wooldridge residents in front of the fire-damaged church on October 26, 2022 (file photo courtesy of the governor’s Facebook page)

West-central Missouri’s outgoing congresswoman says the massive October blaze that destroyed more than 2,500 acres was started by a combine.

U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville), who represents Wooldridge, tells 939 the Eagle’s “Wake Up Mid-Missouri” the blaze quickly spread.

“Now ultimately that fire did spread into the Big Muddy Wildlife Refuge and with the winds and the dryness that were there it did burn for miles and miles,” Hartzler says.

Congresswoman Hartzler also tells listeners that the fire was not caused by tall grass in the Big Muddy Fish and Wildlife Refuge, which is operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“The management per say was not the cause. And the fire was at such speed and such volume that even the fire breaks that they do have in between would not have stopped it. They’re just not wide enough,” says Hartzler.

The blaze destroyed at least 23 structures in Wooldridge and closed I-70 near Rocheport for several hours. There were no fatalities in the blaze.

Congresswoman Hartzler toured the devastation in late October with Governor Mike Parson (R) and Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia). Leader Rowden has described the damage in Wooldridge as gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. Rowden has told 939 the Eagle that the Wooldridge recovery will be an issue that state lawmakers will address when they return to Jefferson City in January.

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