Firefighters And Forestry Service Battle Large Wildfire

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JOHNSON COUNTY (KFSM) -- Four fire districts along with the U.S. Forest Service continue to battle a wildfire in Johnson County, which has already burned 1,000 acres of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest.

Officials said Tuesday (Nov. 28) that the fire is about 90% contained and expect the wildfire to burn 2,000 acres before it is fully contained by the end of the week.

"Saturday afternoon, there was a report of smoke and Sunday, they sent fire crews out here to check it out," Robert Duggan, U.S. Forest Service said.

That smoke was apart of a wildfire that forced firefighters to begin what they call an indirect attack, fighting fire with fire.

"Where the fire's at, we're helping it progress down to the control lines," Duggan said. "As the fire spreads down, we just try and help it get to the lines and we burn around the outside."

Officials said the man-made fire lines are created to be a barrier to help control the wildfire, rather than putting it all out at once.

"We've got good, black coal on the edge," Michael Haisten, Big Piney District Fire Manager said. "We're just improving the lines, getting the hot spots and making sure things hold the next few days."

Those with the U.S. Forest Service said the area was scheduled for a prescribed burn in the coming months, but mother nature beat them to it.

"It is very beneficial to the forest," Haisten said. "It's a very important part of the ecology and the ecosystem here."

The next few days crews plan to focus on interior burning while monitoring the burn lines.

About 35 crew members worked the wildfire on Tuesday. That number could change in the next few days based on need.

No resource damage or injuries have been reported. Officials said what is left of the fire is not harming any homes or businesses.

State Forester of Arkansas, Joe Fox told our CBS Affiliate, KTHV that nearly the entire state could be under a burn ban by the end of the week. Fox said 190 firefighters are spread across 60 locations around the state and they are on high alert.

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