Our network

Residents back home after Saline County wildfire | News

Title (Max 100 Characters)

Residents back home after Saline County wildfire

The Arkansas Forestry Commission reports the fire is now 100% contained. And folks who were evacuated are back home, some are without power. Crews are still stationed; on the look out hot spots.

A wildfire started burning near Traskwood at about 9:45 Sunday morning. It was contained three different times, but the wind caused the fire to keep reigniting.

Patsy Gosvenor says, "I'm upset because it happened like this about this time every year."

Gosvenor and neighbors were evacuated around noon. Folks packed their cars with valuables and watched the smoke from a safe distance for nearly eight hours until they were told it was safe to return.

Gosvenor adds, "I have lost two homes to fires in 1974 and 1984. We lost everything. Sunday, when they said evacuate, I didn't get anything else out, but the dogs."

Christina Fowler with the Arkansas Forestry Commission explains, "Right now it's reached about 480 acres. I received an update from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and they believe we evacuated about 575 people."

The biggest obstacle through the day was dry and windy conditions. Fifteen volunteer fire departments, nine Forestry Service bulldozers and four air tanker crews were able to contain the fire at about 8 p.m., with no damaged structures or injuries.

Fowler adds, "The air tankers as you can hear them over head, those help out tremendously. A lot of times they will go in and drop water ahead of that fire front, slow it down so volunteer fire department can get in there and protect those homes."

The community quickly stepped up with water, food and words of appreciation for emergency personal and volunteers.

Governor Mike Beebe says, "I got nervous as soon as I heard about it. Everyone around has worked together extremely well."

Governor Beebe spent most the evening at the command center in Traskwood, reassuring residents everything possible was being done.

"Another example of Arkansans helping Arkansans when there is trouble," Governor Beebe says.

On Monday, crews will be out investigating the possible cause of the fire; arson has not been ruled out.

Most dangerous fires are started by people and an important reminder to everyone, almost three-quarters of state is under a burn ban.