Statewide wildfire risk remains high despite rainfall

Many areas of the state received heavy and prolonged rain Tuesday, October 25, but state agriculture officials are still warning residents that many areas of the state are still under serious fire threat. of forest caused by prolonged drought conditions.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture Forestry Division reminds Arkansans that wildfire danger is high statewide and currently 62 counties remain under a burning ban. .

“Conditions are dry with low humidity statewide,” said state forester Joe Fox. “We are seeing an increase in the number of wildfires and their intensity, and this is a trend that will continue until we see significant rainfall. With this in mind, we ask citizens of the state to be aware of this risk and avoid burning.

The Forestry Division maintains a wildfire risk map by county with four levels of risk: low, moderate, high, and extreme. Risk levels are determined by drought conditions and long-term weather forecasts and are defined by how easily fires can start and how difficult they are to contain. The Wildfire Danger Map can be found here.

Low risk means fuels do not ignite easily. Moderate means that a fire can start from accidental causes.

A high risk indicates that fires ignite easily and spread quickly. With high risk, unattended bushfires and campfires are prone to escaping and fires can become severe if not tackled early. Extreme risk means fires start quickly, spread furiously and burn intensely. Each fire started has the potential to become large, officials have warned.

The 16 southernmost counties have been given the “extreme” designation, while the rest of the state remains under “high” risk levels. Additionally, 62 counties are subject to burning bans. Burning bans primarily prohibit activities that involve an open flame. This includes fireworks, campfires, garbage burning, open flame grilling, and prescribed or controlled burns.

Robert Murphy, director of emergency services for the forestry division, said it was important to respect these burning bans.

“Under these conditions, it’s very important for the Arkansans to avoid burning and to stay cautious,” he said. “We are seeing several large fires that start with small, controlled backyard fires.”

Murphy also advises caution when driving or operating machinery.

“It’s important to stay careful when driving or working in dry grass,” Murphy said. “Trucks, ATVs, hay balers and other vehicles can easily start fires by setting sparks on dry grass.”