Fire Danger Intensifies Across State

Officials fear one of worst fire seasons since 2012

NEAR HAGARVILLE, Ark. -- Dry weather, wind, and warm temperatures are fueling fires across the Natural State. More than 1,800 acres burned during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the Arkansas Forestry Commission. 

As of Monday night, 35 counties had declared a burn ban, more than tripling the number of existing burn bans when the day began. 

In Johnson County, one of the state's biggest fires, the Tom's Mill Fire, has already burned more than 500 acres of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. Officials don't know yet what sparked the blaze. 

Crews are fighting the Tom's Mill Fire with fire, burning a perimeter around the wildfire that they hope will eventually contain it. They do expect the fire to grow to roughly 2,000 acres, quadruple its size now, before containment.

Tracy Farley with the U.S. Forest Service office in Russellville says this November is shaping up to be one of the state's worst fire seasons since 2012. Fueling further concern is that deer hunting season is in full swing, sending hunters out into the woods. 

"It's incredibly dry," Farley said. "We want to make sure people are taking really good care of those campfires and putting them out anytime that they leave the camp."  

The Tom's Mill fire is currently not threatening communities, according to officials, but it has forced some road closures. 

As far as fire-sparking conditions, Farley fears things will only get worse, before they get better. 

"Hopefully we'll get some good rain," Farley said. "That's what we're hoping for."  

Another major fire, the Forked Fire, has torched nearly 500 acres in the Ouachita National Forest. At last check, crews had that fired 60% percent contained. The Forked Fire is currently under investigation, as officials have determined it was started by people. 
 


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