Expected Rain Could Alleviate Dangerously Dry Conditions in Region 8

January 9, 2006 – Posted at 5:45 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- After suffering drought like conditions for months, all but four Arkansas counties are under a burn ban.  Crittenden, Lee, Mississippi, and Phillips counties are currently not under the ban, but fire officials say anyone burning should use extreme caution.

Lighter winds and rains that are expected to fall later could help alleviate burn ban conditions, but forecasters predict it won't be enough.

"The problem here is though, we need a substantial amount of rain, a soaking rain and that's something we haven't gotten recently," said Chris Castleman of the KAIT Storm Team.

More than 40 fires burned across the state over the weekend during one of the driest spells on record. Marking the first major wildfire outbreak of the season in Arkansas. The State Forestry Commission says no one is exempt from a burn ban...not even farmers.

"They have always burned and they think that they can continue to burn, and they just need to be aware that if the fire escapes from their property, they are liable for any damages it causes to somebody else's property," said Jonesboro Fire Battalion Chief Alan Dunn.

The wet weather expected could alleviate parched conditions...but Dunn recommends waiting things out.

"If you do want to take on that responsibility or that liability of burning that you have water available. It would be better not to burn at all," said Dunn.

Less than two weeks into the New Year, the Jonesboro Fire Department is already answering the call. So far, they have already put out 16 brush and grass fires.

Conditions appear to be a little better in Southeast Missouri. As of now, there have been no reported burn bans on any counties in the Region 8 viewing area.