Mayflower sees high number of fires over holiday weekend

More than 1,805 acres burned across the state over the holiday weekend. Mayflower saw a large number of grass fires over the holiday, including two grass fires that collectively burned more than 23 acres.

 

The Mayflower Volunteer Fire Department has responded out to 21 grass fires and five structure fires in the last seven days.

Fire Chief Josh Woods said he cautions residents not to burn anything while Faulkner County remains under a burn ban.

“Don’t burn anything, it’s so dry right now,” he said, noting the Arkansas Forestry Commission has announced the entire state is currently under a high risk of wildfires.

The Arkansas Agriculture Department’s Forestry Commission (AFC) suppressed 103 wildfires that burned 1,805 acres over the holiday weekend. Woods said Mayflower firefighters had two major grass fires over the weekend in the Bell Slough Wildlife Management area, collectively taking nearly 12 hours to extinguish.

Of those two fires included an 11.3-acre fire on Monday, along with a 12-acre fire on Thanksgiving Day.

Woods said Mayflower firefighters have responded out to 70 calls this month.

“A lot of it is the weather and people out burning while it’s windy,” he said.

Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker issued a county-wide burn ban Saturday afternoon that will remain in effect until further notice.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson and State Forester Joe Fox said in a joint statement Monday that they are “strongly encouraging residents to avoid outdoor burning until the wildfire danger conditions subside.”

In October, Mayflower firefighters responded out to 13 calls including structure fires, grass fires and illegal burns.

In May, Mayflower firefighters responded out to 69 calls.

Woods said many of those calls were in reference to illegal burns during a burn ban. Those calls, he said, were nothing like what Mayflower has responded out to this month.

Arkansas currently has 29 counties under active burn bans, which are issued by county judges. Faulkner County is among Ashley, Bradley, Boone, Carroll, Clark, Cleburne, Conway, Drew, Fulton, Garland, Grant, Hot Springs, Independence, Jefferson, Lonoke, Madison, Motgomery, Ouachita, Perry, Pol, Pulaski, Saline, Searcy, Sharp, Stone, Van Buren, White and Yell counties that are currently under active burn bans.

Woods said the fire department has seen an outpouring of public support following the recent fires.

“One positive that did come out of the fires over the weekend was the public’s support,” he said. “A lot of the public showed up and showed interest in becoming volunteers.”

The fire department held a meeting Monday and added five volunteers to its roster following the recent public interest.

 

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