Benton County is under a court-ordered burn ban that could last up to 60 days, county officials announced Wednesday.
Benton County Judge Bob Clinard issued the ban, which is eligible to last as long as 60 days. If conditions improve, though, the ban could be lifted.
“We have the Arkansas Forestry Commission and our fire marshal look at the national weather service,” Clinard said. “They look at the wind and humidity and moisture and they take all these into consideration.”
Under the conditions of the ban, residents may not burn trash or other materials out in the open, under penalty of law.
While the ban could last for two months, Clinard thinks the ban will be lifted much sooner.
“We think this one will be at least 10 days," Clinard said. "Once we get a good soaking and a high amount of of rain, it will defeat this burn ban.”
Officials said it is still legal to use fireplaces or grills, just no open burning.
Anyone caught in the act of open burning while the ban is in effect could face a fine of up to $500 dollars.
Many county residents said they were confused about the difference between a court-ordered burn ban and a red flag warning. Mike Dixon, deputy director of the Benton County Emergency Management Agency, said he wants to clear up any confusion.
“A red flag warning is done when conditions are favorable for a burn ban but not bad enough that we have to do a court ordered one. Our fire marshal can enact a red flag warning for one day only,” Dixon said.
Meanwhile, a county burn ban has the weight of a court order behind it, making offenders subject to penalties under the law.