Little Rock, AR -- Even though the fuel on the ground of forest lands across the state is up to ten times more than normal due to the December ice storms, Arkansas residents, because of early May rains, can rest a little easier that the threat of run-away wildfires has temporarily subsided.
National Weather Service Senior Forecaster Greg Meffert of Little Rock, indicated that the early May rains have helped to temporarily eliminate the "extreme" wildfire danger in the state. "We've just experienced the eighth driest April on record in Little Rock and have an above average amount of fuel on the ground in forest areas from the December ice storms. However, we are still standing by the long-range summer (June - August) forecast that indicates to us that we'll have near normal temperatures and rainfall. Even during a normal summer, extended dry periods are common which could aggravate the wildfire situation," said Meffert.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) officials continue to partner to make residents aware of the potential danger of wildfires in coming months. "We feel it responsible and prudent to issue caution to our residents of the threat of wildfires due to the debris on the ground from the December ice storms and an extremely dry April that was some 4 inches below average for recorded rainfall," said Joe D. Bray, federal coordinating officer.
"There were 41,599 acres of timber destroyed by fires in Arkansas last year," said David Maxwell, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. "We're urging Arkansas residents to be mindful of the seriousness of potential wildfires this summer and to use all care to prevent unnecessary accidents," said Maxwell.
Residents observing fires are encouraged to call 800-468-8834, 24 hours a day to report fire emergencies.