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Several counties in north Arkansas under wildfire danger

Several counties in north Arkansas are under wildfire danger after an abnormally dry fall.
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 4:57 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Boone County and several surrounding counties in northern Arkansas have been under a high wildfire danger for several weeks.

Despite rain Sunday night into Monday morning, fire officials say it is smart to hold off on large controlled burns until there is more precipitation.

Baxter, Marion, and Searcy counties are under moderate wildfire danger. Boone, Carroll, and Newton are among 12 counties in the northwest corner of the state that has been under a high wildfire danger. That was temporarily lowered following rainfall but will resume in a few days barring precipitation, according to the Arkansas Forestry Department.

In the month of November, Boone County only received 1.4 inches of rain, which is nearly three inches less than the monthly average.

“Yeah, we got a little rain last night, but as dry as it’s been along with the low humidity it’ll be back the way it was within a few days,” said Marc Lowery, Chief of Harrison Fire Department. “This time of year all the grass is dying, it’s easy to burn and the humidity is extremely low, so those two things are really a recipe for disaster.”

The increased risk is something Marc Lowery and his team have seen an impact from.

In Jasper, there have been multiple fires in the last two weeks causing concern. Newton County Sheriff Glenn Wheeler is asking help from the public to spot suspicious activity or any information on the fires.

”In the rural setting of our county, there is a lot of areas that can go unnoticed until it’s a huge fire,” Lowery said. “Our resources are another thing. All the volunteer fire departments down there do the best they can but there’s so few.”

Sunday, several departments responded to a silo fire, which took eight hours to contain.

”First thing that I would encourage is to put that off as long as you can until we get more rain,” said Lowery. “Open burning is regulated within the state, but I would notify your local department when you are trying a controlled burn. But watch the weather, if the winds are going to get up to 20 mph and 20% humidity, it’s going to spread. This grass is dead right now and the leaves are dry and it’s gonna go like crazy.”

For more information on wildfire danger, burn bans, and prescribed burns visit https://www.arkfireinfo.org/index.php?do:showBurnBans

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