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Wildfire risk still high as storms move across the state

Seven wildfires, including one reaching 75 acres, pop up overnight in southern Arkansas and the Arkansas Forestry Commission says lightning is to blame.

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Lightning strikes as a storm crosses central Arkansas that residents have waited on for weeks. But believe it or not, with the much needed rain comes an even greater risk of lightning fires.

"Sometimes we see more than 200 strikes in one county in one hour," said John Robinson with the National Weather Service.

Robinson is monitoring all the storms scheduled to hit the state over the weekend. He says with the extreme dry conditions all across the state, the chance of lightning starting wildfires isn't a risk - it's guaranteed.

"We can have the rain here but the lightning come out of another part of the storm and hit a place that's dry," said Robinson. "Then, if you're also getting the wind gusts from those thunderstorms, that makes it twice as bad. As we've seen the last few days some of them get well over 100 acres - sometimes as much as 500 acres."

So just like emergency crews, this weekend workers at the National Weather Service will stay on standby, as well - constantly in contact with the Arkansas Forestry Commission on wind speed, storm direction and, of course, wherever lightning strikes.

So far the largest recorded fire this summer was in June in Montgomery County. It reached 685 acres and it was all caused by one lightning strike.

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