Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

TOP STORY >> Rain helps, but doesn’t cure threat

Leader staff writers

Tamara Jenkins, office of emergency services director for White County, said the rain the area received Monday night and Tuesday wasn’t enough to call off the burn ban that has been in place since Dec. 31.

“It hasn’t been lifted and it won’t be until we get a lot more rain,” Jenkins said Tuesday afternoon. “What fell is just going to sink in and with the wind tonight it’s going to be back as dry as it was.”

Fire officials from Jacksonville, North Pulaski and Sherwood agree.

On Tuesday, Jacksonville Fire Chief John Vanderhoof said, “Weather officials are predicting that the positive effects of Monday night’s rain will be gone by Wednesday.”

Adam Baker with the Sherwood Fire Department, simply said, “This rain’s not going to help.”

Central Arkansas received less than a half-an-inch of rain Monday night and Tuesday morning, which was not enough to change the drought status. According to National Weather Service officials, central Arkansas is in a severe drought. Conditions across the state, starting in the southwest corner and heading to the northeast corner, run from exceptional, severe, moderate and then minor.

Jenkins said fire departments across White County were paged out 20 times on Sunday. Many were called to the same fire, she said and some were called to assist fire departments in Jackson County.

Searcy was paged Sunday to a fire that started at the country club on Hwy. 36 that burned 10 acres. They were called out again Monday for “hot spots” in the same area, she said.

Additionally, fire departments were paged out five times on Saturday, she said.

Robert Darr, a firefighter with North Pulaski Fire Department, said, “If you add up the small and large wildfires this past week, we’ve had more than 100 acres burned.”

“We’ve definitely been busy,” he said.
Vanderhoof said Jacksonville crews have worked just a few small brush fires within the city, but have been busier giving mutual aid to other area departments.

Baker also said Sherwood has been relatively quiet.

Vanderhoof credits the media blitz.

“The word has really gotten out about the burn bans,” he said.

Beebe Police Department pages out the Beebe Fire Depart-ment as well as the volunteer departments at Antioch, McRae and El Paso. Beebe Fire Chief William Nick said Tuesday that the weekend was a quiet one with no fires and considering the high wind on Sunday that was a good thing.

Jenkins said although the fine in White County for burning during a burn ban is $250 to $500, so far no one has been cited.