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U.S. Forest Service warns of wildfire smoke in Hot Springs

By Christina Huynh

This article was published January 26, 2014 at 1:44 p.m.

Wind is expected to carry smoke from a 200-acre wildfire to areas in Hot Springs and Jessieville, U.S. Forest Service officials said in a statement Sunday.

Ouachita National Forest Service officials are cautioning the area's residents who are "sensitive to smoke" to stay indoors and to shut their windows to minimize exposure.

The wildfire has been burning since noon Friday in a remote area near the Lake Ouachita State Park on the Little Blakely Trail System, authorities said. The fire was reported to have reached 50 acres on Saturday and all system trails have been closed until further notice.

Crews were managing the wildfire on Saturday using a "less than full suppression" strategy, which means the fire would have been allowed to burn to roads and creeks, U.S. Forest Service officials said. This would have caused less damage to natural resources, according to officials.

However, changes in wind patterns are requiring officials to conduct a large burnout operation using trails, lake shores and other natural barriers to contain the wildfire, the forest service said.

"The change in wind patterns over the next few days would cause smoke from the fire to blanket a much larger area if we waited," District Ranger Megan Moynihan said in a statement.

An investigation into how the blaze began is ongoing.

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