(Photo Courtesy: Wyatt Blackard via KFSM)
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) -- Persistent hot and dry weather increases wildfire danger on the Ouachita and the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests.
"Drought conditions are extreme and we urge caution," said Acting Fire Management Team Leader Jerry Soard. "Significant causes of wildfire include sparks from welding and grinding equipment, carelessly discarded smoking materials, arson and lightning," continued Soard.
Following are some safety tips that will help prevent wildfires:
• Make sure all fires are completely out. If they are too hot to touch, they are too hot to leave.
• Never toss cigarettes or matches onto the ground. Make sure they are disposed of properly.
• Never park your vehicle over dead grass, your catalytic converter can ignite the fuels and start a fire.
• Make a fire safe zone around your home. Clear flammable vegetation from around your home at least 30 feet away. Keep your roof and gutters clean. Don't stack firewood against the house. Visit www.firewise.org for more information.
• Don't run power equipment (such as lawn mowers or chainsaws) on dry, windy days. Sparks from the blade or engine may start a fire.
• If you see a wildfire, do not try to put it out yourself. Call 911 and report the wildfire to the emergency agency in your area.
• Teach children about fire safety. Contact your local fire department or land management agency or visit www.smokeybear.com for more information.
• Take time to follow weather conditions and learn about fire danger where you live.
Because of the continued high to extreme drought conditions, the burn ban on both the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests continues to be in place. The burn ban prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire or charcoal grill on both forests in the general forest area. Gas lanterns, grills and stoves are permitted.
If you live near the forest, please comply with all burn bans and fire restrictions in your area. For a current listing of burn bans in Arkansas and Oklahoma visit the Arkansas Forestry Commission website at www.arkfireinfo.org or the Oklahoma Forestry Services website at www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-information. Unauthorized fires can easily get out of control.
On the Ouachita National Forest, campfires are still allowed in developed recreation areas and must be built only in facilities designed to accommodate them, such as campfire rings and grills.
On the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests, only gas lanterns, grills and stoves are allowed. Campfires are not permitted in developed recreation areas or general forest areas.
As we approach Smokey Bear's birthday on August 9, it's important to "Remember, Only you can prevent wildfires!" Thanks for caring and being careful.