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A burn ban was put into effect Monday by Union County Judge Mike Loftin due to exceedingly dry conditions throughout the county and south-central and -west Arkansas.

“The dry conditions – it’s very dry,” Loftin said. “You can tell by looking around the county. Everything’s really dry and brittle; the grass crunches when you walk on it. A fire would get out of control in minutes, as dry as it is.”

As of September 5, according to the United State Drought Monitor, a large part of Union County, including El Dorado, is experiencing a moderate drought while the rest of the county, except for the northwest corner, is experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission, which has an office in El Dorado at 2165 Champagnolle Road, contacted Loftin earlier this week after controlled burns revealed how dry foliage has become, he said.

“We had a couple of little scattered showers earlier this week, but it’s not enough to do anything,” Loftin said.

Rain showers have been few and far between in recent months. According to Accuweather, El Dorado received only a quarter-inch of rain in August; July 22 was the last time the city got more than an inch of rain in a day, and only .02 inches of precipitation accumulated between then and August. September has yet to see any significant rainfall.

Loftin said the burn ban prohibits the burning of leaves, brush or yard debris, as well as any structures. Outdoor cooking is still permitted, he said. The burn ban is indefinite.

“Be cautious. Even a cigarette – right now, if you thump a cigarette out a car window, if it’s still burning, as dry as everything is, you could start a pretty good fire within minutes,” Loftin said.

Caitlan Butler can be reached at 870-862-6611 or cbutler@eldoradonews.com.

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