Forest Service Officials Urge Caution During High Fire Danger Days

Fire weather watches and red flag warnings in many Arkansas and Oklahoma counties have created heightened awareness for Forest Service officials.


All Arkansas counties and many Oklahoma counties have implemented burn bans and are in either high to extreme fire danger. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Thursday, October 13, and a Fire Weather Watch for Friday, October 14 for many of the counites within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Ouachita and Ozark National Forests.  


According to the National Weather Service, a Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring currently or will shortly. A Fire Weather Watch indicates that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur.


“Ongoing drought conditions, combined with forecasted winds and low humidity, have set the stage for potential extreme fire activity,” said Josh Graham, Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests’ Fire Management Officer. “Although no additional closures or restrictions are currently being implemented on the Ozark National Forest, fire starts due to human carelessness have the potential to spread rapidly.”


Cooler temperatures and the opening of muzzleloading season are expected to attract more visitors to public lands in Arkansas this weekend. Human-caused grass fires are already being reported around the state. Despite recent rainfall, extremely dry ground fuels are still present.


“With the right information and a little proactive care, residents in and visitors to communities with high fire danger can protect their families, homes and woods from wildfire,” added Graham. Be mindful! Avoid outdoor burning, discard of smoking materials or hot coals carefully, avoid parking on grassy areas, and postpone operating equipment that could throw a spark. Tying up or adequately securing boat and trailer tow chains to avoid ground dragging is also critical to preventing fire starts along highways. It only takes one small spark to start a dangerous wildfire. 


Visit www.forecast.weather.gov and search by zip code to find current watches or warnings for any area. To report a wildfire, call 911.


10-13-22 4:44 PM KAWX.ORG