High Wildfire Danger Declared in 53 Arkansas Counties
LITTLE ROCK, ARK. – Due to current and predicted high wildfire conditions, outdoor burning is discouraged across Arkansas. 51 Arkansas counties are under active Burn Bans, which are declared by County Judges. 53 Arkansas counties have been declared under High Wildfire Danger by Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) personnel and fire weather specialists. The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for south, central, and east Arkansas through the weekend. Yesterday was among the highest days for wildfire frequency in Arkansas for 2015, with approximately 28 wildfires, and more than 500 acres burned.
With so many expected in the woods this weekend, for the opening of muzzle loading season and optimal hiking/camping weather, the AFC is working harder than ever to spread the word about the necessity for wildfire safety and wildfire awareness until weather conditions change. As of yesterday at 3 p.m., 12,732 acres have burned in Arkansas, at 996 reported wildfires. Yesterday, approximately 500+ acres burned in approximately 28 wildfires (total numbers are still be tallied from fire reports). 2015 wildfire statistics are relatively low compared to the last year of high Arkansas wildfire frequency –which was 2012, when 34,434 acres burned. In both 2013 and 2014, Arkansas experienced lower-than-normal wildfire frequency. Arkansas has had good growing seasons this year and the previous two years, alongside fewer wildfires, which also means more fuels are on the ground for wildfires to burn.
“The unusually dry and hot conditions for October add to the problem of low humidity and gusty winds, all on a weekend when many Arkansans will be in the woods,” said State Forester Joe Fox. “We encourage Arkansans to enjoy our forests and wildlife, however, we stress heavily to use extreme caution with any type of flames, to avoid all outdoor burning, and to report wildfires quickly,” he said.
October is a normal time of year for Arkansas to experience heightened wildfire danger, however the dry conditions and low humidity present unique conditions which contribute to heightened wildfire danger. Due to conditions, most AFC personnel will not be hunting, but will be on full alert to respond to wildfire emergencies. Ground crews and dozers are available to respond to all counties. Four Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) planes are available to assist via aerial wildfire suppression by dropping water from the air. The AFC works in full partnership with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and the Arkansas Governor’s Office to respond to emergencies quickly. Report wildfires to the AFC Dispatch Center at: 1-800-468-8834.
What can hunters, hikers, and campers do to help with wildfire safety?
•Call the AFC Dispatch Center to report wildfires at 1-800-468-8834. Report emergencies by calling 911.
•Make sure you stay updated on current Burn Bans (51). See map of all Burn Bans reported to AFC Dispatch at arkfireinfo.org and/or contact your local Sherriff’s Office or County Judge’s Office. Remember, only County Judges declare official county Burn Bans in Arkansas.
•During conditions of low humidity, gusty wind, and dry vegetation – which are currently present – avoid outdoor burning of any kind.
•Avoid building campfires of any kind until conditions change, across Arkansas.
•While hunting, make sure that any sparks caused by firing a muzzleloader are quickly stomped out or put out with water. Vegetation is dry; sparks may create flames quickly.
•Transporting equipment to deer camp? Make sure you are not dragging chains as you drive. Chains can create sparks, which transfer flames to multiple locations at once. Keep a watchful eye in your rear view mirrors.
•Avoid throwing cigarettes from vehicles; or from porches or tents at deer camps, as grass and vegetation on the forest floor is very dry.
•Be watchful of machinery and equipment causing sparks and igniting the grass or pastureland.
•If undertaking an agricultural burn: stay with the burn until it is completed; keep water resources nearby; burn only in low wind.
Stay updated on Wildfire Danger and Burn Bans reported to AFC Dispatch at www.arkfireinfo.org and/or facebook.com/ArkansasForestryCommission and @ARForestryComm. Find contact information for your local AFC Crew by visiting forestry.arkansas.gov and choosing the “Contact Us” icon in the upper right of the homepage.
The mission of the Arkansas Forestry Commission is to protect Arkansas’s forests, and those who enjoy them, from wildland fire and natural hazards while promoting rural and urban forest health, stewardship, development, and conservation for all generations of Arkansans.