The Arkansas Forestry Commission says that two fires that started near the main Pope County fire were intentionally set. The cause of the main fire has yet to be determined.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Pope County officials lifted an evacuation order for 144 homes Tuesday evening after a wildfire that consumed more than 550 acres was contained.
Firefighters allowed the residents to return fter the fire was 70 percent under control and was far enough from the houses near Atkins.
The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon and quickly spread, coming within several hundred yards of residences.
Local firefighters and Arkansas Forestry Commission crews continue to battle the blaze Tuesday night. Ground crews had to shuttle water to pumper trucks. The Arkansas Forestry Commission used a fixed-wing tanker plane and a helicopter to dump water on the fire.
The agency says the U.S. Forest Service and Deltic Timber own the land where the fire burned, north of Interstate 40.
Forestry Commission spokeswoman Sheila Doughty said there were no known injuries or property damage, other than to timber.
Doughty said a nagging fire in Logan County broke through a fire line Tuesday and burned just shy of 300 acres.
She said crews suppressed 17 other wildfires Tuesday.
About 140 acres near Bald Knob burned Tuesday, and it may have been started by a careless smoker. That fire was suppressed.
The blaze broke out around noon in the rural area, Fire Chief Danny Holobaugh said.
"Someone threw out a cigarette or something like that," Holobaugh told The Daily Citizen
. "This is the biggest fire we've had this year, especially since the burn ban. People don't seem to understand what a burn ban means."
Most of the damage was to timber land, but he said an unoccupied camper was destroyed.
"There were no injuries," he said. "That's the good thing about it. There aren't many houses in that area."
The Arkansas Forestry Commission said 70 of the state's 75 counties are under burn bans. The agency asked county leaders to specifically ban fireworks when issuing the bans.
"I don't know if people realize how dangerous fireworks are," Holobaugh said. "As dry as it is right now, any type of fireworks and you have a fire."
In Pulaski County, which normally allows fireworks in unincorporated areas, the Sheriff's Department says it will cite violators. The department released reports Tuesday that show two people were cited Monday for illegal burning in the county.
Only Calhoun, Desha, Drew, Little River and Sevier counties don't have burn bans. The Forestry Commission has classified the entire state as being at extreme risk of wildfires, the most severe warning category.
About a third of the state is in severe drought, and most of the rest is in extreme drought. Farmers and ranchers have been watching their costs mount as they cope with the dry conditions.
Numerous municipal and private fireworks displays have been called off, including one in Russellville, which is in Pope County and just miles from the fire near Atkins.
A number of organized fireworks displays that were still on for Tuesday or Wednesday night were to be held over water. Displays in Little Rock and North Little Rock were scheduled along the Arkansas River. Other displays were planned at Greers Ferry Lake, DeGray Lake Resort State Park and at Mountain Harbor Resort on Lake Ouachita.
For June, the Forestry Commission fought 324 fires that burned 4,873 acres, about three times the fires it handled in June 2011 when crews fought 157 fires that burned 1,263 acres.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)