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Threat of wildfires puts Arkansas on high alert

Threat of wildfires puts Arkansas on high alert

November 25th, 2017 by Gazette Staff in Texarkana News

Bulldozer crews with the Arkansas Forestry Commission are on high alert amid the threat of wildfires.

AFC pilots will fly aerial wildfire-detection routes until the danger subsides. Residents can report wildfires to the AFC Dispatch Center at 1-800-468-8834. The center is manned 24 hours a day, AFC spokesperson Adriane Barnes said.

Similar weather conditions last weekend resulted in 54 wildfires suppressed by AFC crews on 502 acres. She said wildfires are more frequent during weekends and holidays because of increased public presence in forested areas and an increase in outdoor activities—including campfires, grilling and debris burning. 

The following precautions should be taken when burning:

  •  Always check the weather before you burn; avoid burning when humidity is below 35 percent or if the wind is blowing more than 5 mph.
  • Report your burn to AFC at 1-800-830-8015 or your local fire department.
  • Create a safety barrier by digging down to mineral soil in a complete circle around your burn area. Move your fire or grill away from leaves, overhanging branches, garages and other flammable debris.

"Residents can stay updated on county burn bans (declared by county judges) and wildfire danger at arkfireinfo.org," she said, adding that the most recent drought report from the U.S. drought monitor lists more than 97 percent of Arkansas as abnormally dry or in drought.

"Arkansas has experienced low wildfire activity over the last four years, with 1,173 wildfires having burned 20,931 acres in Arkansas so far during 2017. 

"The most recent high wildfire year in Arkansas was 2012, when 34,434 acres burned in 2,148 wildfires," Barnes said.

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