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Wildfire Danger Worries Crews in Counties Not Under Burn Ban

Fires across the Natural State have the Arkansas Forestry Commission and local crews on high alert despite some counties still not enacting burn ban. Some officials wish that would change.
SHANNON HILLS, AR -- Hundreds of acres have burned over the last few days, concerning many including the Arkansas Forestry Commission and volunteer crews often tasked with putting them out.

With every controlled burn across the state, fire officials have their fingers crossed the next one doesn't ignite out of control.

That's exactly what happened to Robert Willbanks on Monday.

"Wind came up and just caught it and took it away toward the woods," Willbanks explained.

Willbanks' burn pile quickly spread through his back yard before Saline County volunteer crews could make it.

It's fires like these that have the Arkansas Forestry Commission on high alert.

"It's very concerning," said Public Information Coordinator Adriane Barnes. "Grass fires can become out of control fires that hurt people and destroy homes and property."

Only seven counties are under a burn as of Monday evening, while over 500 acres have burned across the state in the last two days including more than 54 reported fires.

"If they can put off burning they might concider doing that," Barnes added.

If there's not a county ban in effect, residents can still burn despite the Forestry Commission placing the entire state under a moderate wildfire danger before the weekend.

"Before you know, it it gets out of control for them," said Kevin Riedinger, Assistant Chief for the Shannon Hills Volunteer Fire Department. "[Willbanks' fire] could have gotten a lot worse."

Fortunately it didn't spread too far.

The Shannon Hills Volunteer Fire Department had crews there within minutes keeping it at only a couple acres after two hours of work.

Riendinger says, however, it shouldn't have been allowed to happen in the first place.

"Especially with the high wind and dry conditions, we should be under a burn ban," he said.

The Forestry Commission says if you're in a county not under a burn ban and absolutely have to burn something, there are ways to make sure it doesn't get out of control.

For that information click here.
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