THE COLECRUTCHFIELD FOREST FIRE LAW
Act 85 of the 1935 General Assembly (as Amended)
“AN ACT TO PROTECT THE FOREST OF THE STATE”
Be it enacted by the
General Assembly of the
State of Arkansas:
Fire Laws and Related Statues:
ARK. CODE 5-38-310. Unlawful
(a) A person commits the offense of
unlawful burning if the person:
(1) Sets on fire or causes or procures to be
set on fire any forest, brush, or other
inflammable vegetation on another person’s
(2) Allows a fire that he or she built or has
charge of to escape from his or her control
or to spread to a person’s land other than that
of the builder of the fire;
(3) (A) Burns any brush, stumps, logs,
rubbish, fallen timber, grass, stubble, or
debris of any sort, whether on the person’s
own land or another person’s land, without
taking necessary precaution both before
lighting the fire and at any time after
lighting the fire to prevent the escape of the fire.
(B) The escape of fire to adjoining timber, brush, or grassland is prima facie evidence that a necessary precaution was not taken;
(4) Builds a camp fire on another person’s
land without clearing the ground
immediately around it of material that will carry fire;
(5) Leaves on another person’s land a
camp fire to spread on that person’s land;
(6) Starts a fire in forest material not the
person’s own by throwing away a lighted
cigar, match, or cigarette or by the use of a firearm or in any other manner and leaves the fire unextinguished;
(7) Defaces or destroys a fire warning
(8) Is an employee of the Arkansas
Forestry Commission or an officer charged with a duty of enforcing a criminal law and fails to attempt to secure the arrest and conviction of a person against whom he or she has evidence or can secure evidence of
violating a fire law; or
(9) Sets on fire or causes or procures to be set on fire any forest, brush, or other
flammable material in violation of a burn
ban on outdoor burning declared under § 12-75-108.
(b) Unlawful burning is a Class A
misdemeanor: punishable by a fine not
exceeding $1,000.00, or a jail sentence of
not more than one (1) year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
(c) A bond for costs shall not be required in a court of this state for prosecution for
violation of this section.
(d) It is not a violation of:
(1) Subdivision (a)(8) of this section for an employee of the commission to fail to
enforce subdivision (a)(9) of this section; or
(2) Subdivision (a)(9) of this section if the
(A) Acting under a permit issued by the
chief executive of the political subdivision issuing the burn ban; or
(B) (i) Setting on fire or causing or
procuring to be set on fire any crop
remainder or remaining vegetation after
harvest of the crop on the person’s land.
(ii) (a) In order to provide a safety
barrier between the crop remainder or
remaining vegetation and adjacent land, the person shall perform adequate disking of field perimeters or perform other safety measures as required by the county burn ban officer.
(b) If the person does not comply
with subdivision (d)(2)(B)(ii)(a) of this
section, the defense under subdivision
(d)(2)(B)(i) is not available, and the person is liable for actual damages to adjacent land caused by the fire.
ARK. CODE 5-38-311. Unlawful
Burning –Miscellaneous Felonies
(a) The following acts are Class C felonies: punishable by a fine not exceeding $10,000.00 or less than three (3) and not more than ten (10) years in jail or both such fine and imprisonment.
(1) Purposely setting on fire the land of
(2) Starting a fire on the person’s own
land that he or she has leased or are
under his or her control with the intent
of letting the fire escape to the land of
another person; and
(3) The destruction or injuring of, or
theft of any telephone line, tower,
building, tool, or equipment used in the
detection, reporting or suppression of
(b) No bond for costs shall be required in
any court of this state for prosecution for
violation of a provision of this section.
ARK. CODE 5-38-302. Reckless
(a) A person commits the offense of reckless burning if the person purposely starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or that of another, and thereby recklessly:
1. creates a substantial risk or death or
serious physical injury to any person; or
2. destroys or causes substantial damage
to an occupiable structure of another person;
3. destroys or causes substantial damage
to a vital public facility.
(b) Reckless burning is a Class D felony:
punishable by a fine not to exceed
$10,000.00 or six (6) years in jail, or both
such fine and imprisonment.
ARK. CODE 5-38-303. Failure to
Control or Report a Dangerous Fire
(a) A person commits the offense of failure to control or report a dangerous fire if the person knows that a fire is unattended and is endangering life, physical safety, or is burning or is threatening to burn a substantial amount of property of another person, and the person:
1. fails to act in a reasonable manner to
put out or control the fire when he can
do so without substantial risk to himself;
or 2. fails to act in a reasonable manner to report the fire.
(b) Failure to control or report a dangerous fire is a Class B misdemeanor: punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00 or ninety
(90) days in jail, or both such fine and
ARK. CODE 20-22-302. Notice of
Intent to Burn Forest Vegetation
(a) (1) Any person in this state who desires to burn forest vegetation, including debris from land clearing, shall notify the Arkansas Forestry Commission of the person’s
intention to burn. Notification of the
proposed burning shall include the time and location of the intended burning and other facts which the person or the Arkansas Forestry Commission may deem relevant.
(2) This notification requirement shall
not apply to the “open burning” of “yard
wastes” as those terms are defined in §8-6-1701.
(b) The landowner or other person having charge of the land or his or her agent, shall be present and in attendance at the time of the burning.
ARK. CODE 20-22-303. Public
nuisance-Duty to extinguish
(a) Any fire on any forested, cut-over, brush lands or grasslands burning uncontrolled is hereby declared a public nuisance by reason of its menace to life or property.
(b)(1) Any person, firm, or corporation
responsible for either the starting or the
existing of such fire is hereby required to
control or extinguish it immediately, and, if the person, firm, or corporation shall refuse, neglect or fail to do so the Arkansas Forestry Commission and any other organized fire suppression force may summarily abate the nuisance thus constituted by controlling or extinguishing the fire. The person, firm, or corporation responsible for the fire shall be liable for payment of all reasonable costs and expenses incurred in suppressing the fire.
(2) Should the cost and expenses of
suppression not be paid within ninety
(90) days of the invoice date, then such
costs shall be recoverable by civil action.
ARK. CODE 20-22-304. Civil action
for damages (a) Persons, firms, or corporations starting or being responsible for fires that cause damage
to any other person shall make satisfaction in double damage to the party injured.
(b) Damages are to be recovered by civil
ARK. CODE 20-22-306. Conviction as
prima facie evidence in civil action.
Conviction for violation of §5-38-310 or any part of §5-38-311 shall be prima facie evidence of responsibility in civil action to recover damage or suppression cost under § 20-22-304.
ARK. CODE 20-22-301. EnforcementNonliability
(a) The Arkansas Forestry Commission
shall designate those employees of the
Commission who shall have the powers of peace officersin the enforcement of the fire laws, theft of property laws, to the extent they apply to theft of timber, laws pertaining to the unlawful disposal of solid waste when the unlawful disposal occurs on forest land,
and any criminal laws pertaining to the
unlawful damage, vandalism, or theft of
personal property when the personal
property is used in forestry or logging
(b) Arkansas Forestry Commission
employees and fire crews under their
direction or control shall be allowed to enter any lands and construct fire lines, or set backfires, and obtain water, if necessary, in the performance of their duties without liability for trespass or reasonable damage therefrom.
(c) Upon request of the landowner or the
landowner’s agent and after the wildfire
danger has subsided, the Arkansas Forestry Commission or fire crews under their direction or control will replace the water obtained under the authority of this section.
ARK. CODE 15-31-113
Fines generated by law enforcement
activities of the Arkansas Forestry
Commission be deposited into the
State Forestry Fund.
If you Must Burn Follow These Guidelines
1. Plan Ahead
Notify the AFC you will be burning.
Keep tools at hand. Get extra help.
Stay with the fire until it is completely
2. Make it Safe to Burn
Use a screened trash barrel.
Clear all debris within 10 feet of
the burning barrel. Build a fire line around your field or pile of debris before burning.
3. Burn at the Right Time
Don’t burn on dry, windy days.
Burn early in the morning or late
in the evening.
4. Make Sure it is Legal to Burn
Check with your County Judge’s