A burn ban is in effect in Sebastian County as a result of dry conditions and high winds.
The ban, issued by County Judge David Hudson late Friday (Jan. 24), means "outdoor burning of trash, debris, brush and all other materials during this period when conditions are extremely dry" are prohibited.
"Lawns, fields and wooded areas are exceptionally dry and the flash point for outdoor fires is unusually low," said a press release from Hudson's office. "Extremely high winds and low humidity are occurring and will continue to dry out vegetation, as well as spread fire more quickly."
While the United States Drought Monitor only has a small portion of Arkansas listed as "abnormally dry," winds are a factor even when conditions have not yet risen to drought levels. Overnight wind gusts in the Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas areas ranged from 40 miles per hour to 50 miles per hour and many parts of Arkansas are under a lake wind advisories.
Hudson's office, joined by Sebastian County Emergency Management Director Jeff Turner, took extra effort to appeal to smokers in an effort to reduce the risk of fires caused through accidental means.
"We solicit and appreciate the support of each individual during this time period and would request additional caution and good judgment be used by smokers and that smoking material be extinguished in an ash tray or safe container rather than be discarded along our roads and highways," the press release said. "We urge all citizens to work together to protect the lives and property, themselves, their families and neighbors. The burning ban will stay in existence until sufficient rain has reduced the fire hazard."
Anyone violating the burn ban would be prosecuted, according to Hudson's office, with fines ranging from $25 to $300.