The threat of wildfires is likely to increase in the coming weeks as temperatures rise and humidity decreases. Governor Mike Beebe noted in his weekly radio address Arkansas has experienced abnormally high amounts of wildfires recently.
“If the first two months of 2014 are any indication, prevention will be key this year to avoiding widespread devastation. In January and February, Arkansas had more than double the 10-year normal average for wildfires. Altogether, they burned more than 7,000 acres of forests and grasslands across the State. And now we’re in March, typically a low humidity month with greater risk for increased wildfire activity,” said Beebe.
The governor also called attention to the efforts of those attempting to mitigate the risks.
“By complying with burn bans and following other fire precautions, we’re also doing our best to help our firefighters. These brave men and women, many of them volunteers, work extremely hard and risk their lives for our protection. We were reminded of this earlier in the year when Jake Harrell, a pilot for the Arkansas Forestry Commission, died in a plane crash while scouting for fires in Montgomery County. Jake had been flying fire detection routes for the Forestry Commission since 2005,” said Beebe.
Beebe cited figures reporting the majority of wildfires are caused by something other than weather events like lightning. He said 40 percent are caused accidentally by people burning trash or vegetation while another quarter of fires are related to arson. However, he noted Arkansas is ranked as the most Firewise state in the nation by the National Fire Protection Agency.