Burn ban lifted for Carroll County

Friday, August 31, 2012

CARROLL COUNTY - Carroll County campers can finally toast their marshmallows with a clean conscience.

For the first time in more than two months, there is no burn ban in Carroll County. County Judge Sam Barr lifted the ban, implemented on June 18, this morning.

He said he made the call after consulting with officials with the Arkansas Department of Forestry.

"It's been the driest summer and the longest burn ban I can remember," Darrell Bohannon said.

Bohannon, Carroll County forestry ranger, said falling temperatures and rising moisture levels had begun to improve the situation in recent weeks.

Humidity is key. he said.

Humidity had fallen as low as 20 percent during this summer's drought, but is now back in the far less flammable range of 60 to 70 percent, he said.

Bohannon said the change was evident to area firefighters, who have had to respond to fewer fires in recent weeks.

The remnants of Hurricane Isaac should further improve the situation. The storm was forecast to spill more than 2 inches of rain on Carroll County, and it rained steadily throughout Thursday evening and Friday morning. .

"It isn't going to take us totally out of the drought situation," Bohannon said, "but It'll put a big Band-aid on the fire situation."

This Band-Aid is sorely needed after an especially busy summer. An Alpena man was charged this month with accidentally starting the worst fire of the summer. The blaze started on July 4 and burned at least 250 acres. A burn ban was in effect at the time.

Bohannon said the relief might not last long. The normal fire season usually begins in November, when trees begin to shed their leaves.

These leaves are excellent tinder, Bohannon said. Furthermore, bare branches allow more fire-feeding oxygen beneath the canopy.

For now, though, Bohannon said the situation was a "big reprieve."

He said he had received lots of phone calls from area campgrounds. The callers wanted to know whether it was safe to light their fires.

Now that the ban has been lifted, Bohannon said it was safe. However, he offered some cautionary caveats .

"If you do want to burn, try to burn late in the evening," he said. Higher humidity and lighter winds then will make a runaway fire less likely.

He also cautioned readers to light their fires away from tall grasses, which are highly combustible.

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