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Dry Conditions could Spark Wildfires In South Arkansas

High winds and dry conditions are a bad combination for this time of year.

EL DORADO, AR. - The Natural State is bone-dry, with 30-counties under a burn ban as of Thursday.  

In El Dorado, rain amounts are down about 50% from this time last year, with even dryer conditions further east. That’s why every county in Arkansas is at a Moderate-High risk for wildfires, even in the dead of winter. 

“The colder the temperature, the lower the humidity is,” said Arkansas Forester, Chris Ludwig. “Just because we do have cold temperatures, it doesn’t decrease the chance for wildfires.”

The Arkansas Forestry Commission tells us that during the winter months there’s probably more fuel, scattered throughout the forest. Fuel -consisting of broken tree limbs and dry leaves. 

Ludwig adds, “During a wildfire, that’s what helps carry it, and it moves pretty fast.”

In 2013, Ludwig and other foresters battled plenty of wildfires like the ones in Bradley and Ashley Counties.  During the summer, high winds and low humidity makes containing those fires extremely difficult.  Currently Arkansas has dealt with wave after wave of arctic air blasts, which bring with it, high winds and low humidity, not unlike those summer conditions, minus the temperature of course.  

“With the wind we’ve been having, it dries out the top layer of fuel, pine straws, leaves, and makes it extremely combustible and flammable. With winds like this, wildfires tend to occur pretty often and spread pretty rapidly.”

In the meantime, the Forestry Commission is recommending that folks pay attention to the forecast before starting a fire outdoors. They would prefer you not burn anything outside until we get some much needed rain. 

“An ember can start a fire, even with you taking the proper precautions. So it’s best not to burn when you have high winds.”

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