Temperatures may have dropped, but dry weather conditions still grip much of Arkansas, keeping much of the state under burn bans.
However, Union County is not among the nearly 50 Arkansas counties where burn bans are in effect.
As of Friday, county judges in 46 of the state’s 75 counties had issued burn bans, according to the Arkansas Forestry Commission website.
On the commission’s color-coded state map, red indicates that a burn ban is in effect, and the majority of the state is coated in red.
Union County is one of 29 “green” counties on the map, signifying that the county has steered clear of any burn-ban orders issued by Union County Judge Mike Loftin.
El Dorado is not under a burn ban, either.
Fire Chief Chad Mosby and Assistant Fire Chief Jason Evans said the fire department has received several calls from residents who live outside city limits inquiring about a burn ban in Union County.
Mosby and Evans said the calls have increased in recent weeks as county residents rake up fall leaves.
The EFD cannot issue a burn ban beyond El Dorado city limits, Mosby said.
“The public should know that we are not (authorized) to issue burn bans unless it’s within city limits,” Mosby said.
“Only myself or (Mayor Frank Hash) can issue a burn ban within city limits. Typically, it comes from me, even if it’s at the request of the mayor,” he explained.
Loftin makes that call for Union County, and he has not issued a burn ban.
“That encompasses every city in the county, including El Dorado, and the judge would also have to lift the burn ban for the county,” the fire chief said.
Mosby said the county judge works closely with the Arkansas Forestry Commission to keep a close watch on weather conditions.
“So if the time comes where he has to issue a burn ban, he can do it pretty quickly,” Mosby said.
City-wide burn bans are typically issued out of concern for potential grass fires due to windy conditions and may last for as little as a day, he said.
“The county has more to consider with forested lands,” Mosby said.
Last month, the EFD warned area residents about outdoor burning because of drought conditions and those conditions have carried over into December.
The majority of the state, including Union County, is under high alert for wildfire danger because of dry conditions, according to the forestry commission’s website as of Friday.
Nine counties, all in South Arkansas, are in moderate danger for wildfires.
In 2016, the AFC reported that 1,248 wildfires occurred around the state, destroying more than 19,000 acres.
Twenty-six of those wildfires broke out in Union County on 350 acres of property.
The majority of the wildfires that occurred around the state — 574 — last year were caused by debris, according to AFC statistics.
Mosby encouraged residents to visit the AFC website to view maps about burn bans and wildfire danger in Arkansas.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.