LITTLE ROCK — The Arkansas Forestry Commission on Wednesday raised the fire danger level to extreme in 39 counties and set the level at high for the rest of the state.
The commission said 58 of the state’s 75 counties remain under outdoor burn bans.
"Open burning should not be attempted during extreme fire danger," the agency said in a release. "Open fires can quickly escape and are difficult to control. Spot fires and erratic burning conditions make fire difficult to contain, even for experienced fire fighters. This can endanger human life and property."
The commission urged people to be careful with outdoor activities and use of machinery that might spark a fire, such as mowing and hay bailing.
All of Arkansas is abnormally dry, with more than 95 percent of the state under severe drought conditions.
The National Weather Service reported that the months of April, May and June were the driest three months ever in Arkansas, rainfall was as much as 50 percent below normal in some areas.
During those three months, West Memphis reported 58 percent less rain; Pine Bluff, 45 percent less; Fort Smith, 41 percent less and Texarkana 37 percent less. Little Rock reported 36 percent less rain than normal during the three-month period.
Temperatures are expected to hover around 100 degrees across the state Thursday, with a slight chance of thunderstorms Thursday night. Temperates are expected back into the high 90s through the weekend, with 100s back in the forecast Sunday.