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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

High winds send fires roaring

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This makeshift sign in front of the Camp Fire Department alerts passers-by of the burn ban in Fulton County. Over the weekend several fires broke out throughout the county. These fires burned about 200 acres of land from March 6 to March 8, according to the Arkansas Forestry Commission.Photo by Emily McIntosh
Fires spread throughout Fulton County March 8. "We had quite a little outbreak of fires Sunday," Salem Fire Chief Heath Everett said.

Everett said the Salem Fire Department assisted in about five fires in one day. He said all of them were started basically the same way -- ice storm debris and trash brush fires mixed with high winds.

Since the ice storm, a burn ban had been in place within Salem city limits. March 8, Fulton County Judge Charles Willett extended the burn ban to include the entire county.

"Yesterday, (March 8) we had fires everywhere," Willett said.

He said controlled burns are still permitted within the county as long as the judge's office or the Forestry Commission's office is notified. "This is so we know a fire department will be there to assist if the fire gets out of control," Willett said.

For those wanting to have a controlled burn, they can call the judge's office at 895-3341 or the Forestry Commission's office at 895-2934.

According to Everett, the Salem Fire Department assisted the Viola Fire Department and the Arkansas Forestry Commission with a large fire that burned several acres of land on Highway 62-412 about three miles west of Viola. Everett said the fire was big enough for the Forestry Commission to call in planes to do a water drop. Donald Cooper, district dispatcher for the Arkansas Forestry Commission, said the planes did two water drops on the fire at Viola. Cooper said 70 acres were burned in the fire.

"In my 17 years of fighting fires, I've never seen it so bad that a plane had to do a water drop," Everett said.

Other large fires were on Highway 395 North and on the Byron Road.

According to Cooper, the Forestry Commission responded to five fires in Fulton County March 6 that covered 42 acres. A total of 40 acres were burned March 7 in one fire, and March 8 the Forestry Commission responded to five fires that burned 118 acres.

Due to high winds and many people wanting to burn ice storm debris and trash, not just Fulton County was affected by fire over the weekend. Cooper said the district covers Fulton, Izard, Sharp, Independence, Lawrence and Randolph counties. "There were fires in all six (over the weekend)," Cooper said. He said the Forestry Commission responded to 32 fires from March 6 to March 8, which affected 628 acres.

Cooper said in Sharp and Izard counties, some of the fires were due to arson. He said it is possible in Izard County that hunters were out setting fires so they could hunt better. Gary Hudson, the investigator for the district and Izard County ranger said the fires were around the Guion community. "It was probably hunters wanting to clean (the land) up," Hudson said. He said the hunters set four fires March 7 that affected about 25 acres.

"It was a very busy weekend," Everett said. "As far as I know, just about every fire department in Fulton County was called out for fires."

"I've seen busy days, but that was the busiest one I've ever seen," Everett said. "It was a pretty eventful weekend."

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