Update: HI and Eureka Springs declare burn ban, warning continues elsewhere in county

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CARROLL COUNTY -- A burn ban has been declared for the Holiday Island and Eureka Springs Fire Districts, officials said Monday.

Meanwhile, the rest of the county continues to operate under a red flag warning.

Holiday Island Fire Chief Jack Deaton said he had made the decision to ban fires after County Judge Sam Barr issued the county-wide warning Thursday.

The warning, which is one step shy of a ban, indicates that conditions are favorable for a wildfire. However, unlike a ban, it does not carry the threat of a citation for offenders.

"We have been discouraging fires for more than a week," Deaton said, but he hoped issuing the ban would further discourage them.

Eureka Springs was already under a burn ban Thursday. Capt. Jason Morris, of the Eureka Springs Fire Department, said his agency had decided to declare the ban more than a week before, in response to persistently dry and windy conditions.

Though no one in greater Carroll County will be issued citations for roasting marshmallows, Darrell Bohannon, a ranger with the Arkansas Forestry Commission, discouraged people from breaking out the fire-starters just yet.

"Conditions are not good to be burning right now," he said.

Bohannon said he hesitated to recommend a ban, because the county's fire season -- when the most blazes typically occur -- would not begin until February.

He said he would rather deal with a few small fires now, when the conditions aren't so bad, than have people stockpile their trash and leaves and be tempted to burn after the first of the year, when wildfires are more likely to get out of hand.

"We'd rather let people burn when they can," he said. Still, he asked that people exercise caution when doing so.

"Use common sense," he said. "If its a windy day, don't burn."

Bohannon also recommended people wait to start fires until evening, when humidity is on the rise and fires are less likely to spread.

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