High temperatures prompt national forests officials to remind visitors of wildfire dangers | News

Hot Springs, Ark. – High temperatures are forecast for Arkansas and Oklahoma, Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests officials are asking visitors to be aware of wildfire threats.

During high temperatures, visitors should take advantage of camping options even when there are no restrictions.

“If visitors use campfires, they can reduce the risk of wildfires by using existing fire rings and making sure those fires are completely extinguished,” Ouachita and Ozark-St. According to Josh Graham, Francis National Forests fire and aviation officer. “As temperatures continue to rise, it’s important for the public to exercise caution when enjoying their public lands.”

When traveling through the forest, visitors should not stop on dry brush or grass. A fire can start from muffler heat from the bottom of an ATV/UTV or motor vehicle. Make sure there is nothing towing behind vehicles or trailers that could spark and start a fire.

Robert Murphy, director of emergency services for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture and Forestry, recommends taking extra precautions when driving or operating machinery.

“It’s important to be careful when driving or working in dry grass,” Murphy said. “Trucks, ATVs, lawnmowers and other vehicles are dangerous in hot, dry conditions.

In Oklahoma, state officials are concerned about the drying trend and its impact on wildfires, said Andy James, chief of fire management for the Oklahoma Forest Service.

“We are prepared for this situation, assigning personnel seven days a week to provide coverage and protection to the state,” he said. “We will continue a coordinated response in cooperation with all agencies; the fire department, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the forest industry and landowners.

Before you go hiking or camping, check with the forest, grassland or ranch district for fire bans or area closures.

For more information, call the Ouachita National Forest at (501) 321-5202 or Ozark-St. Francis National Forests at (479) 964-7200.

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