(East Arkansas) The list of Arkansas counties now under outdoor burn bans is growing due to high winds and unusually dry conditions.
The biggest threat for wildfires is in central Arkansas, but people across the state are urged to avoid starting fires outdoors for any reason.
Rangers at Arkansas state parks are making sure campers who start fires put them completely out.
The concerns come as another strong cold-air system moves through the region.
“During this time of year, especially when the humidity is low, the vegetation can be very dry. We go through prolonged periods of lack of rain or sleet or snow,” said Todd Demers, News Channel 3 weather anchor.
At Village Creek Sate Park in East Arkansas, the ingredients for a potential wildfire are plentiful with dead grass, dead leaves, and dead branches all adding to the chance of a fire.
Park interpreter Heather Runyan said she and other park staff members live by a simple rule when it comes to dead leaves.
“If you can crunch it, it can burn. and it burns easy and it catches fast,” said Runyan.
Runyan said during the winter smaller trees have very little sap, making them more flammable.
Right now there are no restrictions on having camp fires in Village Creek, but that could change if windy and dry conditions continue.
So Runyan said extreme caution is being stressed to all campers.
“A simple spark can be carried further to a fuel load. Even though you think you’ve cleared far enough around your campfire,” said Heather Runyan.
The fire threat goes beyond Village Creek State Park, of course.
We found no one was watching a trash fire in St. Francis County Tuesday as high winds kept flames alive.
A county judge is the only one who can issue the ban for a particular county, but Buford Horne, Assistant Superintendent at Village Creek State Park, said there’s a slogan everyone should live by right now.
“Like Smokey The Bear says, ‘only you can prevent forest fires,'” said Horne.