National Park Service (NPS) officials say after a hot and dry summer and a very mild, but warm and dry winter, conditions are perfect for the onset of widespread fire danger.
Buffalo National River was notified by the Searcy County Sheriff's Office this morning that a county wide burn ban was issued until further notice.
Today, a new fire entered the park and at last report had burned about 130 acres of oak-hickory uplands. The "Smart Bluff Fire" is located on the north side of the river about five miles south of St. Joe and three miles west of Tyler Bend. Crews were working at last report to get the blaze under control. The fire, reported at about 10 o'clock, began on private lands and moved southeast into the park. A short time later, crews were also sent to put out a second fire in or near the Lower Buffalo Wilderness in Marion County.
The Searcy County ban will trigger an open fire ban in the portions of the Buffalo National River that lie within Searcy County. Due to the extreme dry weather event and in concert with county burn bans, Buffalo National River is issuing restrictions on the use of fires and smoking within the
park. The restrictions went into effect immediately and will remain in effect until weather conditions permit a return to normal recreational activities. When a county issues the cancellation of a burn ban, the park also cancels the ban in that portion of the park that is within the issuing county.
- Open fires only at developed recreation sites or improved sites.\
- Open wood and charcoal fires in metal fire rings and pedestal grills in developed camping areas.
- Charcoal, propane or other contained fuel grill use.
- Outdoor smoking is permitted, but smokers should use extreme caution when smoking and take extra precautions when discarding their butts.
- Open fires or campfires are prohibited, except as permitted above, in backcountry and on gravel bars.
- Outdoor smoking except as set forth above including discarding of cigarette butts at any location or from vehicle.
Many state and federal agencies participate in prescribed burns, all of which have the potential to generate large and sometimes uncomfortable amounts of smoke. This smoke can also travel for great distances so that, for example, a fire in the Ouachita Mountains may seem like something as close as Jasper to Harrison residents.
Click here for information on the sources of smoke,.
Park dispatch 888-692-1162 may also be called for questions relating to the ban or to report fires.
Visitors and park neighbors are advised to use extreme caution with all fires. Fire danger in the surrounding counties around the Buffalo National River has moved to high category, and the public should be prepared to hear about bans in Newton, Marion, and Baxter counties as well.