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Officials: All Arkansas counties under extreme wildfire risk

The entire state of Arkansas is now under an extreme wildfire risk as almost every county has a burn ban in place.

ARKANSAS, USA — Officials announced Tuesday, Sept. 27, that the entire state of Arkansas is under an extreme wildfire risk.

The Arkansas Forestry Division also said that all counties in our area are under a burn ban.

However the increased risk is not that uncommon this time of year, says Wesley McKinney, a fire management officer with the Arkansas Forestry Division.

"Usually, September, we're a dry month. Lower RHs, [relative humidity] and that's what we're seeing right now, but we haven't gotten out of the drought stage from the summer so that's making conditions a lot worse," said McKinney.

Although drought conditions began in the summer months, the relative humidity helped reduce the number of fires. Moving into the fall, those relative humidity levels begin to decrease making things drier.

In Sebastian County, the drier conditions have led to a number of fires to start the month of September.

"From Sept. 1 to mid-September, the 15th or 16th, we had 16 fires, so almost a fire a day," said Travis Cooper, the deputy director for Sebastian County Emergency Management. "Looking at the number of fires that we actually had throughout the summer was roughly around 30% of what we had in September."

McKinney warns that without more rainfall, conditions could worsen into next year.

"The forecast is predicting above average temperatures and below average moisture," said McKinney. "We're setting the stage for possibly a long-duration fire season that could go into the winter and then come out of the winter into the spring seasons."

The Arkansas Forestry Division lists equipment malfunction, burning debris, lightning, vehicles and arson as the top instances that can spark a wildfire.

Officials say lawns, fields and wooded areas are exceptionally dry.

If you see a wildfire call and file a report at 1-800-468-8834.

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