Wildfires Burn Near Normal

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The number of wildfires in Arkansas is running about average through the first half of 2009.

Mark Reed, fire management officer for the Arkansas Forestry Commission, says last year's record-low number of wildfires says rainfall was the key reason, not better detection nor better suppression.

In 2008, Forestry Commission employees suppressed 846 wildfires that burned 10,636 acres. those numbers represent all-time lows since the commission began keeping records in July 1935.

Last year's wildfires also totaled less than half the recent 10-year average of 1,756 fires that burn 24,418 acres annually.

Glen Fortenberry, a Hot Springs-based fire management officer with the U.S. Forest Service, says the frequency of rain in 2008 was more important than the amount of rain. --- Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)