North Arkansas fire departments receive funds to fight wildfires

Rural department stop wildfire spread at barn fire Tuesday
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture Rural Fire Protection program received over $279,500 to help volunteer departments fight wildfires.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Arkansas Department of Agriculture Rural Fire Protection program received over $279,500 to help volunteer departments fight wildfires.

The grant was made possible through the Agriculture Forestry Division. It benefits 87 rural fire departments, seven of which are in north-central Arkansas.

These kits include lightweight wildfire-resistant coveralls and gloves, hand rakes, back-pack water pumps, and leaf blowers.

“These items are meant to keep a firefighter lightweight and able to move,” said Tommy Creamer, Boone County Rural Fire Coordinator. “When you’re dealing with a wildfire, the circumstances change. You’re dealing with a whole new ball game. So you have to be prepared when that happens.”

Creamer, along with several other departments in the county, responded to a structure fire off Old Bergman Road. Neighbors say they heard a loud boom when the fire started. Investigators say nobody was inside at the time of the fire, and the origin is unknown.

“I started thinking about it spreading to some of the other buildings and this field back here and trees and stuff,” said Owen Konrad, owner of the barn. “I called (911 Dispatch) back and said I think you guys should come out here to make sure it doesn’t spread.”

According to the forestry division, increased spread risks concern current dry conditions.

“There is a chance, especially if it is grown up around it, of the fire getting away from the structure and getting into the wild land,” said Creamer. “Then once it gets to the wildland, it can get to a lot of other structures. So it’s very important that we are all set up.”

Creamer says training and equipment are the top two things to be prepared for wildfires. A grant totaling nearly $280,000 benefiting seven North Arkansas agencies, including ones in rural Boone county.

“So it’s important that they learn how to fight fires that are not structure fires out on the wild land,” said Creamer. “Because they’re so many different factors involved once you get out into a wildland fire.”

There were no injuries from the barn fire, the building was a total loss. Konrad says he’d been working to clean up the barn from a previous owner, and the roof had caved in recent weeks.

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