(Photo: Arkansas Forestry Commission)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Despite some recent rainfall, 18 counties in Arkansas have burn bans in effect, and that list is expected to get even longer.
There are obvious signs of dry conditions in Faulkner County and county judge Allen Dodson said he's keeping a close eye on the county's drought index number.
"There are 650 square miles in Faulkner County, so invariably some of the county is going to be drier than other parts of the county. So, it's tough. It's tough to strike a balance between not permitting fires and telling folks they can do it," Dodson explained.
Dodson added that right now the driest parts of the county are in the south and the southeast. Earlier in the week, the National Weather service in Little Rock released the drought monitor showing drought conditions were developing for much of Arkansas. Dodson said that indicates that the wildfire risk is growing.
"You look at things like how many fires have we had? Have we had a rash of them? No, not yet. Are we getting closer? Yes," Dodson described.
Friday, Dodson consulted with the Conway Fire Department about the county's fire risk. He said rainfall on Wednesday bought the county a little more time.
"You know the rain we got the other day? Several areas of Faulkner County got an inch of rain. Still, that may have not even bought us a week," he continued.
But, that isn't the case for the city of Conway. As of 7 a.m. Monday, the Conway issued a burn ban just for the city, according to Fire Marshall Captain Mike Rhoades.
"Only reason we did was just a preventive. At that point we had been almost three weeks now without rain, 100 degree heat. You know weather dictated that," he explained.
Dodson said drought conditions are much better than they were last summer.
"I'm just glad we were able to get through the Fourth of July and not have a burn ban in place like we did last year because it affects people's livelihood," Dodson added.
"We are better off this year," agreed Rhoades. "You know right now as it stands, we did get the rain Wednesday night, Wednesday evening. Not enough to really help us a whole lot."
Dodson warned that the county is inching closer to a ban every day. To check if your county is under a burn ban, go to the Arkansas Forestry Commission Website: http://on.kthv.com/18SzajG