March 27, 2023

Wildfire dangers statewide stay excessive regardless of rainfall

Many elements of the state acquired a soaking, extended rain Tuesday (Oct. 25), however state agriculture officers are nonetheless warning residents that many elements of the state are nonetheless beneath a critical wildfire menace brought on by prolonged drought situations.

The Arkansas Division of Agriculture’s Forestry Division is reminding Arkansans that wildfire hazard is elevated throughout the state and at present 62 counties stay beneath a burn ban.

“Situations are dry with low humidity statewide,” stated State Forester Joe Fox. “We’re seeing a rise within the variety of wildfires and their depth, and that’s a pattern that may proceed till we see vital rainfall. With this in thoughts, we’re asking residents of the state to be conscious of this threat and keep away from burning.”

The Forestry Division maintains a county-by-county Wildfire Hazard map with 4 threat ranges: low, average, excessive, and excessive. Danger ranges are decided by drought standing and long-term climate forecasts and are outlined by how simply fires can begin and the way exhausting they’re to comprise. The Wildfire Hazard map will be discovered right here.

Low threat signifies that fuels don’t ignite simply. Average signifies that fireplace can begin from unintended causes.

Excessive threat signifies that fires ignite simply and unfold rapidly. With excessive threat, unattended brush fires and campfires are prone to escape and fires might grow to be critical if not attacked early. Excessive threat means fires begin rapidly, unfold furiously, and burn intensely. Each fireplace began has the potential to grow to be massive, officers warned.

The southernmost 16 counties have been given the “excessive” designation, whereas the remainder of the state stays beneath “excessive” threat ranges. Moreover, 62 counties are beneath burn bans. Burn bans primarily prohibit actions that contain an open flame. This contains fireworks, campfires, trash burning, open flame grilling, and prescribed or managed burns.

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Robert Murphy, Director of Emergency Providers for the Forestry Division, stated it’s vital to heed these burn bans.

“In these situations, it’s essential for Arkansans to keep away from burning and stay cautious,” he stated. “We’re seeing a number of massive fires that begin as small, managed yard fires.”

Murphy additionally recommends warning when driving or working equipment.

“It’s vital to stay cautious when driving by or working in dry grass,” Murphy stated. “Vehicles, ATVs, hay balers, and different autos can simply begin fires by inflicting sparks over dry grass.”