Little Rock, AR -- High fire danger and "widow-makers" will make the Arkansas woods a potentially deadly place this year, state and federal officials warn.
With thousands of tons of broken limbs and downed trees from December's ice storms, everyone in the woods - especially hunters, hikers, and campers - faces more risk.
The danger is especially high in windy weather, when wildfires can spread quickly and dangling limbs - widow-makers - break free and crash to the ground.
While most campers and hikers won't be in the woods until spring and summer, the turkey hunting season starts March 31 and April 2, and hunters will face the additional hazards generated by the storm damage.
Hunters and others should be particularly careful with campfires, and should scout the area for dangerous branches before moving through the woods.
Disaster recovery officials recommend that no one burn wood debris from the ice storms - the risk of wildfire is too great. For people who must burn debris, the Arkansas Forestry Commission offers these guidelines:
- Do not burn debris in windy weather.
- Burn in a cleared area.
- Keep debris piles small so fires can be controlled.
- Have the tools on hand necessary to douse the fire.
Before starting a debris burn, report the time, place, and materials to be burned to the Forestry Commission at 800-830-8015. If the fire gets out of your control, or you see a wildfire anywhere, immediately call 800-468-8834.
People who start a fire may face a fine if the fire escapes their control, the Forestry Commission said.