All of the dry weather Northwest Arkansas has been experiencing in September is concerning county and city fire departments because of the potential for wildfires.
The Arkansas Forestry Commission says most of the state, including all of Northwest Arkansas, is in moderate danger for wildfires. That means the ground and air are dry enough to be potentially problematic.
“The gentleman had done it before, followed all the rules but he was inattentive for just a short moment, it got away and it almost cost him his house,” said Eric Smith, assistant fire marshal for Benton County.
On Thursday, a controlled burn in Gravette went south when wind blew embers onto extremely dry grass, causing it to catch fire which then spread to a nearby house.
“Fire department got on scene, made a really good stop, worked together and got it put out with minor damage to the structure,” Smith said.
No one was injured but the fire marshals office says this is an example of how even the safest controlled burns can be dangerous when conditions are this dry.
“We’re starting to come into that period, when the leaves will start falling, the grass starts turning brown and drying up,” Smith explained.
The fire marshal carefully monitors the potential for fires everyday.
“There’s a few counties in Arkansas that have already put burn bans on but we’re still – we’re not to that point yet,” Smith said.
Local fire departments, like Fayetteville, are ready and equipped to respond to wildfires during this dry season.
“We’ve got hoes, rakes, shovels. We’ve got blowers…backpack blowers to be able to manually blow fire lines and things like that,” said Battalion Chief Willie Watts of the Fayetteville Fire Department.
Officials say it’s still safe to conduct controlled burns, just make sure you call your local fire marshal ahead of time.
Residents are allowed to burn yard waste and agriculture clearing but household trash, tires, chemicals, construction and lumber is prohibited.
Weather models show it could be over a week, maybe even two, before we see any significant rainfall in Northwest Arkansas.