Drought Conditions Continue, Burn Ban in Effect
Current drought conditions, and weather forecasts for low humidity and periodic gusty winds, continue to create wildfire danger across Arkansas. Until ample rain is received, residents are urged to use caution with outdoor burning, and should avoid outdoor burning and grilling altogether if winds exceed five to 10 miles per hour.
As of Wednesday, Clay and Greene became two of the latest Arkansas counties to be placed under a burn ban. The ban now covers the majority of the state, and all of Northeast Arkansas. As a result, Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) dozer crews remain on high alert. AFC pilots also assisted these efforts by flying aerial wildfire detection routes—and will continue to do so until wildfire danger decreases. Arkansas residents can report wildfires to the AFC Dispatch Center by calling 1-800-468-8834. The AFC Dispatch Center is manned 24 hours a day.
Similar weather conditions earlier in November resulted in 54 wildfires suppressed by AFC crews on 502 acres. Wildfires tend to be more frequent during weekends and holidays due to increased public presence in forested areas, and because of an increase in outdoor activities that include campfires, grilling, and debris burning.
Until conditions improve a variety of precautions should be taken when burning. Always check the weather, and avoid burning when the humidity is below 35-percent or if the wind is blowing more than five miles per hour. Report your burn to the AFC Dispatch Center or your local fire department. And, always create a safety barrier by digging down to mineral soil in a complete circle around the burn area. Care should also be taken in moving the fire, or grill, away from leaves, overhanging branches, garages and other flammable debris.
The most recent drought report from the United States drought monitor indicates more than 97 percent of Arkansas is suffering abnormal dryness or drought conditions. Details may be found at http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu
Arkansas has experienced low wildfire activity over the last four years, but 1,173 wildfires have burned 20,931 acres in Arkansas so far during 2017. Officials note the most recent high wildfire year in Arkansas was 2012, when 34,434 acres burned in 2,148 wildfires.
The Arkansas Forestry Commission is an agency of the Arkansas Agriculture Department. The AAD is dedicated to the development and implementation of policies and programs for Arkansas agriculture and forestry to keep its farmers and ranchers competitive in national and international markets while ensuring safe food, fiber, and forest products for the citizens of the state and nation. Those wanting to learn more may visit www.aad.arkansas.gov