Although Mother Nature's fury of the 2009 ice storm will live in the minds of many, her aftermath in the form of downed trees and debris is still visible. The excessive brush and vegetation causes an increased wildfire risk as the limbs and brush begin to decompose on the floors of the areas woodlands. For this reason, the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) began distributing wildfire fighting equipment to numerous volunteer fire departments in the area June 1.
The much needed equipment will assist these rural departments in controlling wildfires.
The equipment was made available to the departments at the AFC District 8 Office in Ash Flat. Fire departments from Fulton, Izard, Independence, Jackson, Sharp, Randolph and Lawrence Counties picked up their equipment.
According to a press release from the AFC, equipment for the kits was purchased with funds from the $3.6 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant of 2009 (ARRA) grant. This grant was awarded to the agency through the US Forest Service for wildfire hazard reduction on property in Arkansas impacted by the ice storm of January 2009. The ice storm devastated the northern third of the state, producing large amounts of uprooted and broken trees. Nearly 5 million acres of forest experienced varying degrees of damage.
This debris will hinder firefighting crews and cause more intense wild land fires. In an effort to assist fire departments responding to wild land fires in the designated counties, $448,800 has been used to purchase items to supply fire departments with a wild land firefighting kit. The kit includes: two backpack water pumps; two backpack leaf blowers; two chain saws with chaps and helmets; five council rakes and five leaf broom rakes.
Departments in the area that received the equipment include:
From Sharp County: 9 Mile Ridge; Poughkeepsie: Wirth; Williford, Hardy; Highland, Sidney; Evening Shade; Ash Flat; Center; Ozark Acres, Cherokee Village (also in Fulton County) and Cave City.
Izard County: Mount Pleasant; Oxford, Horseshoe Bend; Calico Rock; Melbourne; Ruthie Mountain; Guion; Franklin; Pineville and Zion.
Fulton County: Camp; Byron; Mammoth Spring; Glencoe; Morriston and Viola.
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