Is Arkansas ready for severe wildfires? | News
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - With the rising temperatures comes the rising concern for wild and brush fires in Arkansas.
The Arkansas Forestry Commission keeps track of the wildfire danger in the state as well as fight any fires that happen. In Tuesday's report, AFC crews suppressed 20 wildfires consuming 240 acres.
There are currently 55 out of 75 Arkansas counties that have enacted a burn ban.
With the burn bans and word the heat is not letting up anytime soon, is Arkansas ready for severe wild fires, like in Colorado? Fires there continue to bring devastation, with not only heat contributing to the blaze, but wind as well.
Today's THV Dustin Wilson interviews Don McBride of the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
McBride: You can hear how these leaves are crunching the leaves and you can tell by the way they are crunching how dry the fuels are.
Wilson: "What does it take for leaves as dry as this to catch fire?
McBride: "Very little, fireworks, sparks off a vehicle, cigarettes if it's along the highway so just a little bit of spark is all it's going to take to ignite this type of fuel. It's what we call tinderbox.">
Wilson: 20-25 fires yesterday?
McBride: "We had about twenty fires that burned a little over 200 acres."
Wilson: With the current conditions in Colorado, if Arkansas had severe wild fires like that, would the state be prepared?
McBride: We gear up as we need to and we work a lot with our cooperating agencies. Our U.S. Forest Service, our fire departments.
Wilson: "Maybe go into a little bit more of the specifics of the resources that could be tapped if need be?
McBride: Well these would be other state resources from the surrounding states that are part of the compact. It could be dozer crews, overhead teams, strike teams, even air resources if we need it. We have exclusive use for two, what we call single engine air tankers. They're aircraft that drop water and foam from the air. They hold anywhere from 550 to 800 gallons depending on which aircraft we have. We've activated that contract. They're scheduled to be in about noon Saturday at our tanker base in Hot Springs and we'll have two seats."
According to the Arkansas Forestry Commission, in June alone has seen more than two-hundred fires, covering nearly 3-thousand acres. To put in perspective, last June, there were only 54 fires, covering four-hundred acres.