Family loses home to fire, neighbor gets cited

(KATV) Hot Spring County - Man or nature can cause a wildfire, with little effort. We have had more than 5,000 acres burn this year and in the next few weeks, the weather conditions are expected to put the state in high fire danger.

The cause of a wildfire in Hot Spring County that destroyed a home Monday afternoon has been determined.

Homeowner, Jimmy Johnson says, "Some people just set it on fire and hope for the best. This is what happens when you do that."

Monday afternoon, Jimmy Johnson's wife cut her errands short and decided to go home. "She got here and the hill side was already on fire headed towards the house."

With fire crews on the way, Johnson's wife took matters into her own hands and used a water hose, but the wind directed the fire to the house and storage shed. The home is a total loss. The shed had tens of thousands of dollars in valuables, including 20 ATV's the Johnson's collect and restore. Plus priceless positions like Jimmy's late brother's military medals and awards.

Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) officers cited the Johnson's neighbor for letting their brush fire get out of control and using fireworks.

AFC Wildfire danger information

Joe Fox is with AFC, "It's getting dry so in another week or two we will probably be in high fire danger."

Fox says compared to last year, the state hasn't had as many wildfires, but it is still early in the season.

"Arkansas fires historically and this year are started by humans, either by accident or on purpose. Usually the on purpose is about 15-percent, but by accident can be over 50-percent." Fox continues, "It is so dangerous. Everyone needs to be aware of the conditions around them, dry grass, the fuel on the ground from down trees, from storms. All of that dries out and makes for a great fire which is not a good thing."

The loss is at more than $200,000 but what Jimmy really appreciates is the firefighters who risked their life for one particular item. "The main thing is my 22 year old step-sons ashes. We had to get those so everything else is material. Some places do have burn bans already out. Unfortunately this is one that didn't. We will make it somehow or another, we always do."

Last year, the Forestry Commission had to layoff employees because of budget issues. During the 2013 Legislative session, they were given a budget increase and plan to hire about 13 fire fighters and fill 7 other positions. Job listings will be added here.