Wildfire threatens Wilmar, Green Hill
A wildfire that began Thursday afternoon in Drew County just west of Monticello near the small community of Wilmar continued to rage into the evening hours before being contained at 1:45 a.m. Friday. Firefighters and officials worked well into the afternoon hours on Friday to make sure the fire was fully extinguished.
Joined by representatives from Drew County including the Sheriff’s Department and Office of Emergency Services, multiple other community fire departments and the Arkansas Forestry Commission, the Monticello Fire Department was one of the first responder teams to arrive on the scene in an attempt to control the blaze.
According to sources within the Arkansas Forestry Commission, investigators are still trying to determine the exact cause of the fire and that anyone with information to please call their office at 501-296-1940 or their local law enforcement agencies.
Dozens of firefighters and county employees worked to contain and extinguish the fire that sparked Thursday afternoon. Throughout the blaze, attempts were made to contain the fire through barricades but on multiple occasions the flames escaped and continued to threaten more land. During the fight, local and state authorities have had to close portions of Highway 278 West, Tennessee Spur and several more roads to ensure the public’s safety. Some members of the Wilmar community were also evacuated as a precautionary measure.
As part of the containment fight, the Arkansas Forestry Commission called in a pair of helicopters, who each dropped an estimated 18 loads of water apiece on the blaze. A spotter plane was used in an attempt to determine the exact direction the fire was moving. They also called for the placement of a ‘fireline’ all around the blaze. A ‘fireline is defined as a strip of cleared or plowed land used to stop the spread of a fire.
No homes were destroyed during the fire and officials have determined that the total acreage of destruction was actually less than 600 acres first assessed.
“The total acreage destroyed has been determined to be 495 acres,” said Michael Frisby, Drew County Office of Emergency Services coordinator, said. “Thankfully no homes were destroyed and the only structures damaged were four mobile deer camp structures.”
Despite the heavy rains that struck the area Friday evening, Drew County Judge Robert Akin, under the advisement of the Arkansas Forestry Commission, has yet to lift the burn ban in the county. Officials are urging residents to be mindful of the ban and refrain from burning rubbish or other materials until the ban has been lifted.