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Springtime Wildfires, Controlled Burns Raise Concerns in Carroll County

courtesy: Chris Fischer
A wildfire in mid-March spreads to neighboring land in southern Carroll County. Officials say the wildfire was likely caused by a local controlled burn that got out of control.

Farmers and landowners in the Ozarks traditionally have burned forests and fields to clear debris this time of year. However, dry and windy conditions can quickly turn controlled burns into wildfires. State laws regulate controlled burning and prohibit such fires from getting out of control, but officials say citations are rarely issued because of a scarcity of hard evidence and eyewitnesses willing to come forward. We speak with state forester Joe Fox, a Carroll County judge, an Arkansas Forestry Commission county crew leader, an area fire chief, a right-to-burn farmer, and one wildfire affected property owner willing to talk on the record.

Jacqueline Froelich is an investigative reporter and news producer for Ozarks at Large.