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Lightning causes Conway County fire

Firefighters are working all across the state to contain wildfires sparked by lightning from this weekend's storms.
Conway County Fire (Karoline Wightman/FOX16)
Conway County Fire (Karoline Wightman/FOX16)
Conway County Fire (Karoline Wightman/FOX16)
Conway County Fire (Karoline Wightman/FOX16)
Firefighters are working all across the state to contain wildfires sparked by lightning from this weekend's storms.

Despite some rain received, the Arkansas Forestry Commission says the drought is continuing to cause extreme fire conditions.

One of the largest lightning caused fires still burning Sunday night started around 2 o'clock in the afternoon. Firefighters say rain from the storm kept the fire from spreading much more than 100-120 acres.

Flames turned what used to be acres of thick forest into ash. Smoke mixed in with the storm clouds reduced visibility off Highway 124 near Cleveland in Conway County.

Chief David Hull with the Cleveland Fire Department says with the recent hot and dry conditions, the ground, trees, and brush burn easily.

Local volunteer fire departments get assistance from the Arkansas Forestry Commission to contain the flames. Crews plowed lines around the fire to keep it from spreading. Chief Hull says they're thankful for the rain. "If it wasn't for the rain we would probably still be fighting fire right now."

Luckily, no homes were threatened, but lightning can strike anywhere. With more storms on the way, Hull says the fire danger level is still extreme. "Hopefully we'll get more rain and if the lightning does strike the ground, hopefully it will be wet enough and won't cause this problem again."

This isn't the only wildfire crews are fighting. The Conway County Office of Emergency Management says several fires all started by lightning are stretching crews thin. They say it's a sign just one light rain can't quench the thirst of the dry forest fuels.

Firefighters will be out all night mopping up the hot spots on the Conway County fire, keeping their fingers crossed for more rain and less lightning.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission reports its crews fought at least eight fires Sunday in Cleburne, Boone, Newton and Pope Counties, along with Hot Spring, Sharp, and the one in Conway County. The AFC says lightning caused at least three or four of those fires.
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