Letter to the Editor

Thank you goes out to Forestry workers, volunteer firefighters

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We are blessed in Carroll County with dedicated volunteer fire departments and Arkansas Forestry employees. They have been responding to numerous fires and saved homes and acres of land from danger.

Last week 1,200 residents near the town of Ola were evacuated from their homes as wildfires threatened their safety. Our Forestry Commission firefighters and volunteer departments in Yell County have been working expeditiously in this heat to contain the blaze.

Unfortunately, Yell County is not their only concern. Every county in our state is now classified as high wildfire danger area.

The Forestry Commission reports there were 324 fires in the month of June this year. The average for June is typically around 65.

In 2012 alone, over 21 thousand acres have been damaged. The good news is over 1,200 structures have been saved.

Although we continue to work on making sure the Forestry Commission has the needed manpower, we need your help in giving them a break.

We have 195 firefighters working on the line for the Forestry Commission. But with over 300 fires in one month, it doesn't take long to figure out these men and women are exhausted.

Prevention is key. More than four out of every five wildfires in the U.S. are caused by people. Man-made causes such as arson or carelessness by individuals are the biggest contributors.

Such carelessness includes smoking in forested areas or improperly extinguishing campfires.

The best advice is to not smoke. But if you do, use the ashtray in your car and never throw cigarette butts out of the window.

Also, we want to remind Arkansans that Arkansas law prohibits burning of household garbage. Burning trash in the open produces pollutants that fill the air, water, and land. But another danger is the fire itself, which can often get out of control and cause damage to nearby areas.

In these conditions, any spark can cause a fire. Be mindful that sparks from lawn mowers and equipment can be extremely dangerous right now. It is also recommended to park your cars in areas where grass or other vegetation does not come in contact with your exhaust system.

Arkansans are known for helping one another in times of need. We have seen volunteers working around the clock to help protect others during this wildfire season. We are confident Arkansans will do everything they can in the next few months to prevent more fires in the future.

-- STATE REP. BRYAN KING

Berryville

Editor's note: King is finishing out his final term as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives, as he is unopposed in the fall General Election in the race for State Senate District 5. King won the Republican primary for that position earlier this year.