Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb issued a countywide burn ban Thursday as dry conditions have increased the possibilty of wildfires.

Jefferson County Judge Mike Holcomb issued a countywide burn ban Thursday as dry conditions have increased the possibilty of wildfires.

As of Thursday afternoon, county judge-issued burn bans were in effect in 31 of the state’s 75 counties, including neighboring Cleveland and Lincoln counties.

Elsewhere, burn bans have been enacted in Clark, Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, Franklin, Fulton, Garland, Hempstead, Howard, Independence, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Montgomery, Nevada, Ouachita, Perry, Pike, Pope, Polk, Pulaski, Scott, Sharp, Stone, Union, Van Buren, White and Yell counties.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission reported that moderate wildfire danger existed in Jefferson, Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Drew, Grant and Lincoln counties. (Details: Visit

“Due to the extreme temperatures and lack of needed precipitation, dry conditions exist over all of Jefferson County,” said Holcomb. “This increases the level of fire danger tremendously.”

Fire has been a byproduct of the dry weather. The forestry commission reported Wednesday that its crews had suppressed 10 wildfires covering 74 acres and were working to contain four more fires.


The Cooperative Extension Service reported Thursday that extreme drought has crept back into Arkansas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday.

Drought covers 99.71 percent of Arkansas, with just a small portion of southeastern Columbia County on the Louisiana border remaining free of any drought category. A year ago, drought covered nearly 83 percent of the state.

The “extreme” classification, the second most severe category, covers part of northeastern Clay County.

Most of the state is classified as “severe,” with pockets of less-severe drought in Benton and Washington counties, Columbia and parts of its neighbors, Lafayette, Nevada, Ouachita and Union counties; parts of Desha, Chicot and their neighbors, Arkansas, Ashley, Drew, Monroe, and Phillips counties; and nearly all of Mississippi County.

A PDF of the map can be found:

With highs in the 90s over the past week and more in the forecast, the weather is expected to remain hot.

“The heat is back and appears with some intensity,” said Brent Griffin, extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “Much of the corn acreage in Prairie County is at the ‘roasting ear stage’.”

The drought may also mean a role reversal for Arkansas’ hay growers. Last year, many sold hay to cattle producers in Texas and Oklahoma.

“It looks like the Sahara Desert around here,” Jesse Bocksnick, Sebastian County extension agent for the U of A System Division of Agriculture said Thursday. “At the end of May, the grass should’ve been ripe and green. It looks more like the end of August.

“This year, I have had out-of-state producers sending me contact info wanting to sell here – mostly from Oklahoma,” he said. “If it doesn’t rain, we may be the ones paying big for hay or selling our cattle.

Some rain was expected for northwest Arkansas on Thursday. Fort Smith and Fayetteville had just a trace of rain Thursday morning.

For more information on crop production or water conservation, visit or contact a local county agent.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.

Rick Joslin with The Commercial Staff and Mary Hightower with the Cooperative Extension Service at the U of A contributed to this article.