First posted on 10-12-2010
By By Mary Hightower, U of A Division of Agriculture
Be extra cautious with potential ignition sources.
Triple-digit temperatures and lack of rain are drying out forests, yards and right of way areas, and Arkansans need to be aware of all potential wildfire ignition sources, said Tamara Walkingstick, associate center director for the Arkansas Forestry Resources Center, said Wednesday.
“There are so many ways to start a wildfire or feed one that we take for granted,” she said.
Not tossing smoldering cigarettes from the car window may seem obvious, but many people don’t give it a second thought.
“Many fires are started by cars,” she said. “A hot exhaust system parked over uncut dry grass can turn into a fire quickly.”
As Arkansans rush to take one last vacation before school starts, many may hit the campgrounds.
“Think about whether you really need to have a campfire - or even if it’s allowed,” Walkingstick said. “Check with the ranger or the county judge to see if a burn ban has been declared for the county.”
Potential fire hazards include Eastern Red Cedars, which contain resins that make them very flammable.
“If you have a large cedar with branches over the house, or anywhere near your home, prune them,” she said.
Walkingstick said homeowners should become familiar with the Arkansas FireWise program of the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
“These are solid safety guides to prevent the loss of homes from wildfires,” she said.
According to the Arkansas Forestry Commission, the wildfire risk as of Wednesday was high in seven counties: Columbia, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Miller, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Polk, Sevier and Union counties and upgraded to moderate in the state’s other 62 counties.
Burn bans have been declared in 16 counties: Ashley, Chicot, Columbia, Conway, Fulton, Garland, Jefferson, Johnson, Lafayette, Ouachita, Polk, Pope, Sharp, Searcy, Van Buren and White counties as prolonged hot weather continues to dry out trees and increase dry leaf litter.
Wildfires were reported Wednesday near the Prairie-Lonoke county line and on Monday in Pulaski County.
Rain is expected to re-enter the forecast on Thursday, the National Weather Service said.
For information on forestry, visit http://www.uaex.edu, or contact your county extension office. Current burn ban and fire risk information is available from the Arkansas Forestry Commission at http://www.arkfireinfo.org/index.php?do:showWildFires. FireWise information may be found at: http://www.arkansasfirewise.com/.
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