- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Thirty counties in southern and central Arkansas are at a high risk for wildfires through the weekend and beyond, forestry officials said Friday.

While weather should be perfect for yard work outdoors this weekend, outdoor burning across the state is highly discouraged, with humidity dropping and winds increasing. Forecasters said the winds may not die down until Monday.

“Get outside and enjoy this great weather, but remember that wildfires could spread quickly from our control. Please use good judgment and keep the safety of all citizens in mind,” state Forester Joe Fox said in a statement.

The Arkansas Forestry Commission said 30 counties with burn bans in place had a “high wildfire danger,” while the state’s other 45 counties weren’t entirely in the clear.

The National Weather Service in North Little Rock said that in September, Little Rock had received 4 percent of its typical rainfall and El Dorado and Pine Bluff had received just 1 percent.

“This time of year, we’re usually dry in general, but we are unusually dry in sections this year,” said Chris Buonanno, the forecast office’s science and operations officer.

The state received a lot of rain in the spring and early summer, but since July 1 there had been only 14 days with measurable rain in Little Rock, he said.

“We would have been in worse shape (entering the fall wildfire season) if we didn’t get the rain that we did,” Buonanno said.

Rainfall totaled just .12 of an inch in September at Little Rock, a record low for the month, the weather service said.

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Counties with burn bans at midday Friday included: Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Clark, Chicot, Cleburne, Cleveland, Columbia, Conway, Drew, Faulkner, Garland, Grant, Hempstead, Hot Spring, Howard, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lincoln, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Nevada, Ouachita, Pike, Pulaski, Polk, Saline, Sevier and Union.

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