On Tuesday at about 1:30 p.m. a call was received by the Carroll County 911 dispatch center regarding a forest fire that had escaped from a brush pile. Homeowners had lit the fire the previous night and left the area believing that the fire had burned itself out.
Unfortunately it had started again and expanded threatening one cabin and two barns. While the fire was on private land, it was within the "protection zone" which is a buffer area between private and public lands.
The Russell Point fire was located about three miles south of Arkansas Highway 21, off Red Star Road, just above Edgemon Creek and Boxley Valley Church, and approximately a half-mile from National Park Service's boundary.
Ponca and Kingston Volunteer Fire Departments made the initial response, assisted by the U.S.
Forest Service, Arkansas Forestry Commission and NPS. The first crews were on the scene by about 3 p.m.
Carroll County dispatched Kingston VFD and Ponca VFD to respond since the exact county of location was unknown. Meanwhile, at approximately 1:45 p.m. NPS fire dispatch received a call from the AFC to report a fire in Boxley Valley, possibly on NPS lands. NPS fire resource, including helicopter were dispatched to the area. The wildfire was located and confirmed to be on private lands and threatening NPS lands.
NPS and AFC formed a unified command operation and shared resources to attack the wildfire. Do to the rough and steep terrain a 10-person hand crew was requested from the USFS to assist with containing the wildfire.
Working in cooperation, all four agencies were able to contain the wildfire at approximately 7.5 acres by constructing a combination of hand-built and dozer-built fire control line, NPS officials said. No structures were damaged.
Crews remained on scene until approximately 10 p.m. Tuesday to control the wildfire. Crews returned on Wednesday to ensure that the fire remains within the control lines.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, crews were still deployed to ensure that the remaining hot spots did not flare up and break out of the containment zone.
Concerns for fire danger remain high as the persistent drought continues with the severity "bulls eye" over Arkansas and Missouri.
An NPS meteorologist anticipates that it will be November before the fire severity diminishes. The NPS has contracted a helicopter shared among other federal and state agencies, and has a fire crew from Lake Meredith National Recreation Area in Texas on standby for any fire emergencies. The USFS has acquired additional fire crews from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Minor sparks have been the cause of some major fires in Arkansas in the last week, some started by mower blades striking rocks. Extra caution must be exercised in activities that in ordinary circumstances would not pose a threat. An USFS spokesperson stated that the fires on Forest Service lands in the past week were primarily caused by dry lightning strikes.