Two Camp Robinson fires damage 890 acres

Two Camp Robinson fires damage 890 acres

15 October 2010

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USA —  North Little Rock, Sherwood, Camp Robinson and several Pulaski County fire departments battled a blaze endangering homes in an area west of Batesville Pike on Monday afternoon that ended up burning 640 acres at the state military base. It was the second fire at the camp within one week.

North Little Rock Fire Department Assistant Chief Steve Smith said his department had two engine companies on the scene and at mid-afternoon were contacting residents in a new subdivision called Bent Tree Estates, just west of Batesville Pike near the U.S. Rooter business location, to notify them that they might have to evacuate.

Lt. Carl Minden, spokesman for the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, said this blaze started at about 2 p.m. at Camp Robinson. Military officials said the fire was on the same range where a grenade range incident started a fire the previous week.

Together both fires burned 890 acres at the post, Capt. Chris Heathscott said.

A Sherwood fire department spokesman said his department had three units on the scene but had not evacuated anyone at mid-afternoon.

Minden said that by 5 p.m. the fire was under control and had not jumped the fire breaks at the edge of Camp Robinson.

Ricky Wallis, a resident of 17207 Batesville Pike, said he was concerned that if the wind had changed, the fire could have spread to his neighborhood on the outskirts of North Little Rock because there had been so little rain and the grass is dry.

Showers Tuesday afternoon helped alleviate the dryness, officials said.

Wallis, 45, said the area had been smoky for days because of the range fire that started last week.

“Our whole house stinks,” Wallis said. His home is on the edge of the Bent Tree Estates subdivision near Camp Robinson.

Heathscott said the second fire on the east side of post near Kellogg Valley is under investigation.

He said Camp Robinson personnel battled the blaze late Monday with the 77th Aviation Brigade once again called to fight the fires from the sky.

“The brigade helped control the fire with two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters fitted with 600-gallon ‘Bambi’ buckets,” he said.

The Arkansas Forestry Service assisted Guard personnel in cutting additional firebreaks to surround the fire and prevent additional spreading.

The Arkansas National Guard spokesman said the existing firebreaks surrounding Camp Robinson assisted in the ability to contain Monday’s blaze on post property, although large flames spurred by the day’s winds caused initial concern of a potential jump off post. He said emergency responders from various neighboring communities were on hand to protect the nearby residential area in the event the fire spread off post.

“The previous week’s fire was sparked by range qualification on the M203 Grenade Launcher range,” Heathscott said, “but there were no active ranges near the area of Monday’s blaze. Both fires occurred within a location designated as the small arms impact area on post, but Monday’s fire was roughly two and a half miles from the location of the first. In total, approximately 890 acres of grass and wooded area have burned on post over the past week. No structures or active inventory equipment were damaged in either blaze.”

Camp Robinson manages fire breaks surrounding the 32,000-acre post in order to prevent such incidents from spreading into the surrounding communities, Heathscott said. Periodic prescribed burns are also conducted on the post in order to reduce the amount of natural fuel on the ground and reduce the risk of wildfires.

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