Firefighters battle 2 wildfires around the Buffalo National River

NEWTON COUNTY, Ark. (KY3) Officials say a wildfire that has scorched an area above Boxley Valley in Newton County, Arkansas is now "under control."

Photo Credit: Buffalo Outdoor Center
Photo Credit: Buffalo Outdoor Center

Firefighters began battling two separate fires along Highway 21 north of Boxley early Sunday afternoon. The two fires have since met, combining into one fire.

According to the National Park Service, One fire originally burned about 50 acres. The other burned about 15 acres. The fire spans some private land, but some of the land belongs to the National Parks Service, along The Buffalo National River.

Officials say battling the blazes has been difficult because of high winds and rough terrain.

"The fire started right on [Highway] 21 and, basically, is traveling right up these steep hillsides," Caven Clark, with the National Park Service, said. "With the dryness, the wind, the leaves that are down, once it started, there is nothing between you and it."

Clark says it's possible that the fire will continue to smolder until the area gets a significant amount of rain.

"We are going to have to be tracking this for a very long time," Clark said.

Clark says crews will continue to work to keep lives and homes safe.

"The priorities are human safety and, second of all, protecting property. We've got crews working on suppression around that right now," Clark said.

As for other nearby, locals say they're glad for now its only smoke.

"My place is at the bottom of the mountain on this side," Eric Lof said. "The smoke is blowing down that way. It's down in the little valley where my house is, so I get to live with the smoke all in the house, all my clothes smell like smoke."

Officials say the fire his low-heat and it is also staying low to the ground.

"It's still serious, but it doesn't pose the same constellation of threats that a fire like they're having in southern California has," Clark said.

With the burn ban still in place, Clark says it's important for all of us to do our part in protecting our homes from fire.

"Common sense prevails," Clark said.

Crews have a containment line established along Highway 21 and to the east. Clark says as long as the fire stays inside the containment line, crews can keep it under control.