|Updated: 7/04/2012 8:26 pm
||Published: 7/04/2012 10:14 am
Fire crews responded to numerous fires across the state Wednesday as temperatures topped 100 degrees in places, with only scant, isolated rainfall reaching the ground. Seventy of Arkansas' 75 counties have burn bans in place - including Lonoke County - and the entire state is classified as at extreme risk of wildfires.
A fire in Carroll County in northwest Arkansas near the Missouri border consumed 120 acres on Wednesday. Forestry Commission crews and local agencies battled the fire on the ground, and it was fought from the air with a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter, a single engine air tanker and a U.S. Forest Service helicopter.
In Dallas County, two fires burned close to each other and scorched 100 acres, Arkansas Forestry Commission spokeswoman Sheila Doughty said. Ground crews were supplemented by a Forestry Commission helicopter and another National Guard Black Hawk helicopter.
Windy conditions made it difficult to fight, Doughty said.
"Fire creates its own wind ... and it makes a fire erratic and hard to put out," she said.
In Clark County, a 50-acre fire near DeGray Lake broke out at Bale Eagle Memorial, and four Forestry Commission crews worked to suppress that fire.
Also around the state, Union County had two fires and there were also single fires in Ashley, Drew, Hot Spring, Scott, Sharp, and White counties.
Numerous fireworks displays were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday, though some shows were to go on as scheduled, including Little Rock's display over the Arkansas River on Wednesday evening.
Scant amounts of rain fell in parts of the state Wednesday, though hardly enough to break the drought. A slight chance of thunderstorms is forecast for Friday through Sunday, and temperatures will remain at or near 100 degrees for much of the state.
In anticipation of fires, the Arkansas National Guard provided crews to fly the two helicopters, which are on loan through the weekend. Each is equipped with a 660-gallon bucket for dumping water.
Fires that broke out Tuesday in Pope County near Atkins and in Pulaski County near Maumelle were suppressed by Wednesday morning. The Pope County fire resulted in the evacuation of 144 homes, though none burned.
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Release from the Arkansas Forestry Commission
The Arkansas Forestry Commission reported fires in seven of its eight of its Fire Districts today. Eight fires have been suppressed.
A fire in Clark County around Bald Eagle Memorial near DeGray Lake is estimated to be 50 acres four AFC crews are working on it. One structure was threatened.
A fire in Carroll County near Alpena is estimated at 120 acres. AFC crews are working with local fire departments, a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter, a Single Engine Air Tanker and a U.S. Park Service helicopter.
Five AFC Crews, the National Guard Black Hawk helicopter, a Single Engine Air Tanker and AFC air attack planes are battling two fires in Dallas County. The fires are estimated at 100 acres and could be burning into each other. Several homes are threatened.
AFC Crews are also working on two fires in Union County and fires in Ashley, Lonoke, Hot Spring, Sharp, Drew, Scott, and White Counties. The Arkansas National Guard is assisting with fire fighting efforts by providing two Black Hawk helicopters and crew.
“We requested National Guard resources in anticipation of high fire activity,” said Don McBride, Assistant State Forester. McBride said the National Guard is assisting with two Black Hawk helicopters equipped with 660 gallon bambi buckets. The Blackhawks will be used in conjunction with the Forestry Commission’s Single Engine Air Tankers to provide additional air resources to assist fire suppression crews.
Crews from the AFC, the U.S. Forest Service and Deltic Timber were able to contain the Pea Ridge fire in Pope County around 2 a.m. It is estimated at 550 acres. No homes were lost.
The AFC also contained a fire in the Maumelle area of Pulaski County which burned an estimated 80 acres.
These fires will be monitored throughout the day along with other areas in the state as the AFC remains on high alert.
The AFC had a reported 324 fires in June with 4,873 acres damaged. This is compared to June 2011, when 157 fires burned 1,263 acres.
With the Extreme fire conditions and burn bans in 70 of Arkansas’s 75 Counties, the AFC is urging Arkansans to be FireWise. The AFC is strongly discouraging the use of fireworks until we receive adequate rainfall. It also recommends holding off on using outdoor machinery. Many fires are set accidently by use of equipment such as bush hogs and hay balers. Heat from the equipment or sparks from engines can cause fires which quickly spread in the hot dry grass.