Burn bans lifted after rain in most Arkansas counties
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Recent rainfall has allowed burn bans to be lifted in all but four counties across Arkansas, erasing most of what officials say had become one of the state’s broadest open-fire prohibitions in half a decade.
The prohibition on outdoor fires has been removed from most counties with the exception of Fulton, Madison, Mississippi and Newton counties. Those counties haven’t received rainfall like the other areas, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported .
Farm clippings in Fulton County are piling up and residents are waiting to burn their home’s garbage in a rural area that doesn’t have affordable trash pickup, said Jeannie Wilcox, the county’s emergency management coordinator.
“I don’t remember the last time we’ve gotten truly measurable rain,” Wilcox said Wednesday of the county’s ban that has exceeded two weeks. “We’ve got blue skies here right now.”
County judges can call for bans after consulting with fire departments and a wildfire risk index. The governor has the authority to prohibit burning throughout the state.
“The most recent year we’ve had the whole state under a burn ban was 2012,” said Adriane Barnes, spokeswoman for the state Agriculture Department, which monitors county bans but does not impose them.
Barnes said wildfires in Arkansas have been fewer but larger this year compared to 2012. More than 2,100 wildfires burned an average of 16 acres (6.5 hectares) per fire five years ago. So far this year, fewer than 1,600 wildfires have burned an average of 17.5 acres (7 hectares).
“Since 2012, we have not had fires to remove a lot of debris on the ground,” Barnes said. “So when we do have fires, this year especially, the trend was they were quite a bit larger in acreage.”
Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com