Many counties in Region 8 are at high risk for wildfires

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

NIMMONS, AR (KAIT) - Much of Northeast Arkansas is suffering from moderate to severe drought conditions.  Very little rain has fallen over the Nimmons area although resident Patsy Finley says it has come close.

"Been a long time back up early Spring. We've had a lot of rains that's just passed by us just at the edge of town and all, we've never got a drop."

This means that there are many areas that are prime for wildfires. Outside of Nimmons in Clay County the smoldering remains bear testimony to Tuesday's large grass fire.

The fire spread over nearly a mile in the dense underbrush along the St. Francis river. Even though the cause is unknown, the impact will be felt for a while.

On Wednesday Patsy Finley and her daughter, Annie, were riding horses through the burned area. Finley said Tuesday's fire is going to hit the wildlife hardest.

"The grass is just about all dead. That's what made this even worse is what little bit of grass was here for the wild animals isn't here now. This has always been a nice quiet place, see a few deer, squirrels, rabbits stuff like that."

Piggott Assistant Fire Chief Charles Minton said he doesn't know why or how the fire started in the remote area.

"We don't have an origin a real point of origin other than what the locals reported to us."

I found a smoldering log with a lot of little flames dancing up when the wind blew just right. With a good stiff breeze and smoldering remains like this it wouldn't take much for it to get cranked up again.

Minton said when he got on scene he was amazed at what all was burning.

"We had a good wind from the Northwest yesterday and there was actually green grass burning. The trees were actually exploding. They were going up like matchsticks."

Minton said it may have started near a pile of metal that used to be a small house. The dry thorny bushes and scrub made fighting the fire difficult. Fortunately they had new equipment furnished by the Forestry Commission that was perfect for fighting this kind of blaze. A recent grant had given them hand tools, leaf blowers and chain saws. Just what they needed for Tuesdays' fire.

Minton, "We're very proud of the equipment we got and it made quite a difference for us."

A large fire requires lots of firefighters to get the fire under control.

Minton said he is grateful for all the assistance they had.

"Especially thank all the firefighters that came out and gave their time and hard work and effort to this and especially thank the Arkansas Forestry Commission for bringing out their fire plow."

Even though Clay county has a burn ban on...Minton, "All outside burning is prohibited at this time and as you can see not everybody is following the rules."

Actually Nine counties in Region 8 are under a burn ban including Fulton, Sharp, Randolph, Clay, Greene, Stone, White, Cross and St. Francis.

With little rain in the forecast other counties may soon be following suit.

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