Wildfire season is arriving early in NE AR, SE MO

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - February is slowly coming to an end, and the area is about an inch behind on monthly rainfall.

The main ingredients are coming together for an early arrival of the spring wildfire season: Warm temperatures, low humidity, and howling winds.

Matthew Simpson with the Arkansas Forestry Commission says that fire season has started a little early this year; it usually begins in March.

Crowley's Ridge is a hot-spot for activity right now.

"Today would be a very high fire danger day, and I would avoid burning until we've had a rain."

Dry westerly winds invaded Arkansas just last week, which prompted a few prescribed burns in the northwest corner of the state.

"That wind can bring an ember into that area. Make sure you're not near an area with any tall grass, brush, pine needles, hardwood leaves, or anything like that."

The western-most Region 8 counties were down-graded from a high risk last week after such prescribed burns.

An active weather pattern has kept relatively low dew points in Region 8, slightly below the February average.

Sticks, leaves, and other decaying underbrush can act as an igniting fuel for fires--all that's needed is a spark.

Now, Arkansas is covered in a shade of yellow, an indication of a moderate wildfire danger.

Simpson suggests that people look around and take in their surroundings before burning trash.

He adds that several residential fires in Region 8 over the weekend has the AFC on-guard for a bigger event.

"At this point, we're just on standby with our whole crew. We're by the phone pretty much twenty four-seven."

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