Military training started fire that caused evacuations

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Fort Chaffee military training caused fire that caused evacuations in Greenwood

STARTED — AND WHAT’S BEING DONE TO PREVENT MORE FIRES. THE NATIONAL GUARD SAYS SOLDIERS WERE QUALIFYING ON THEIR WEAPONS WHEN THE FIRE STARTED. IT QUICKLY SPREAD TO THIS NEIGHBORHOOD ON NORWOOD UP TO SOME BACKYARDS BEFORE THE FIRE WAS STOPPED. EMERGENCY MANAGERS SAY THE WILD FIRE BURNED ABOUT 200 ACRES ON FT. CHAFFEE AND ABOUT 40 TO 50 ACRES ONCE THE FIRE CROSSED ONTO PRIVATE LAND. “Clearly it doesn’t matter how big the fire can be. It can always be a danger based on weather and the fuel that’s burning. And then of course, what type of impact it’s going to make.” “our fire crews did respond. Were just it was just it just got bad pretty quickly.” “There was a risk assessment that was made that determined that it was safe. Unfortunately, it’s just it was just really, really dry on that particular day.” LT. COLONEL WILL PHILLIPS WITH THE ARKANSAS NATIONAL GUARD PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE SAYS TRACER ROUNDS, FIRED BY SOLDIERS WHO WERE QUALIFYING ON THEIR MACHINE GUNS, STARTED THE FIRE. “Think of a regular bullet with a coating on it that just when it’s exposed to heat lights up, so that the gunner can identify where the rounds are impacting. It’s a safety measure. It’s there to make sure that we know exactly where those rounds are impacting and that we don’t have any strings astray or errant fire.” PHILLIPS SAYS THE BASE HAS TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED THE USE OF TRACER ROUNDS UNTIL COMMANDERS CAN INSURE IT’S SAFE. THE BASE HAS IT’S OWN FIRE DEPARTMENT BUT THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO STOP THE WILD FIRE BEFORE IT THREATENED HOMES, CAUSING SOME RESIDENTS TO EVACUATE. “I’m a trooper. I mean, I’m a soldier. I go down with the squad. Unless I have to leave.” “I’ve got the truck and both vehicles loaded up of all the all the family documents, family photos, got a baby inside napping, too. So we were getting ready to go getting his bottles as formula because you know, that’s in high demand right now getting all that ready. So yeah, for a while it was I mean, we were both pretty amped up but we’ve calmed down since.” “And this is the second time this happened over here.” “But thank God praise Jesus, that it’s over now.” “I am completely surprised that we had anything, especially a fire go off of that post. The fire breaks in and around Fort Chaffee and then fire bricks that are on Fort Chaffee are quite large we’re talking you know, some cases three vehicles wide that these their breaks so that fire doesn’t, doesn’t occur and again, we also do control burns to ensure that there’s no combustible materials for it, in case the fire does start that it can’t go far.” WE’RE TOLD A SIMILAR FIRE HAPPENED HERE 11 YEARS AGO AND THAT IT DESTROYED ONE HOME AND DAMAGED A FEW OTHERS. FORTUNATELY THAT DID NOT HAPPEN THIS TIME. WE ALSO KNOW SOME FIREFIGHTERS WERE TREATE

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Fort Chaffee military training caused fire that caused evacuations in Greenwood

Military training at the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center sparked a grass fire that forced people to evacuate their homes in Greenwood, according to Lt. Col. Will Phillips with the Arkansas National Guard.A unit was shooting machine guns on a range Tuesday when the fire started, Phillips said. They used tracer rounds that allow you to see where the bullets were.The fire quickly got out of control, Phillips said. Fort Chaffee has its own fire department but they were not able to contain the fire.People who live in the neighborhood on Hilltop Drive were evacuated from their homes for several hours because of the fire.”We were in the middle of dinner and the mayor popped by the door which was very impressive,” Christy Beherns told 40/29 News. “He told us we were evacuating, and it was suggested that we leave now. We loaded up two dogs and a cat and grabbed our meds and they were really nice.”People were able to return home later that night. The fire was 85% to 90% contained Wednesday morning.Fire DangerFort Chaffee has temporarily stopped using tracer rounds while base leaders assess the weather and other conditions, Phillips said.Sebastian County, where Fort Chaffee is located, has been under an official burn ban since Monday. County Judge David Hudson’s burn ban order cited extremely dry conditions.The summer’s dry weather has increased the danger of wildfires across the area.The Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center is used by the Arkansas National Guard for training. It gained national fame when Elvis Presley got his first military haircut there in 1956.This was not the first large fire at Fort Chaffee.In 2008, a fire destroyed about 150 vacant barracks at Fort Chaffee. In 2011, a Kentucky National Guardsman dropped a cigarette and sparked a fire that destroyed more than 100 buildings.

FORT SMITH, Ark. —

Military training at the Fort Chaffee Joint Maneuver Training Center sparked a grass fire that forced people to evacuate their homes in Greenwood, according to Lt. Col. Will Phillips with the Arkansas National Guard.

A unit was shooting machine guns on a range Tuesday when the fire started, Phillips said. They used tracer rounds that allow you to see where the bullets were.

The fire quickly got out of control, Phillips said. Fort Chaffee has its own fire department but they were not able to contain the fire.

People who live in the neighborhood on Hilltop Drive were evacuated from their homes for several hours because of the fire.

“We were in the middle of dinner and the mayor popped by the door which was very impressive,” Christy Beherns told 40/29 News. “He told us we were evacuating, and it was suggested that we leave now. We loaded up two dogs and a cat and grabbed our meds and they were really nice.”

People were able to return home later that night. The fire was 85% to 90% contained Wednesday morning.

Fire Danger

Fort Chaffee has temporarily stopped using tracer rounds while base leaders assess the weather and other conditions, Phillips said.

Sebastian County, where Fort Chaffee is located, has been under an official burn ban since Monday. County Judge David Hudson’s burn ban order cited extremely dry conditions.

The summer’s dry weather has increased the danger of wildfires across the area.

The Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center is used by the Arkansas National Guard for training. It gained national fame when Elvis Presley got his first military haircut there in 1956.

This was not the first large fire at Fort Chaffee.

In 2008, a fire destroyed about 150 vacant barracks at Fort Chaffee. In 2011, a Kentucky National Guardsman dropped a cigarette and sparked a fire that destroyed more than 100 buildings.

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