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story.lead_photo.caption This map shows in red the counties under a burn ban Tuesday afternoon. - Photo by Arkansas Forestry Commission

More than a dozen counties across Arkansas have initiated burn bans as a system packing gusty winds creates a heightened risk for wildfires, officials said.

Crews, meanwhile, were battling wildfires in Little River and Franklin counties.

By 2 p.m., the Arkansas Forestry Commission listed 18 counties, including Pulaski County, as being under a burn ban.

Van Buren, Cleburne, Conway, Faulkner, White, Perry and Pulaski counties were under high wildfire risk, the second-highest classification. The rest of the state was said to be in a moderate risk.

The National Weather Service said the combination of "gusty northwest winds" and low humidity levels combine for an elevated wildfire danger.

"Afternoon relative humidity levels will drop below 30 percent in northern and western sections of the state on Tuesday," the weather service said in a statement. "This will make it easier for fires to start."

Dry conditions and the heavy winds could also help spread fire, the agency noted.

"Even if you are not in" the counties under the burn ban, "outdoor burning is strongly discouraged," the weather service said.

Three fire crews were responding to the reported "large fire" in Little River County, while the Franklin County blaze was said to be "mostly contained," Arkansas Forestry Commission spokesman Adriane Barnes said in an email.

Those fires come after wildfires Saturday and Sunday burned more than 500 acres across the state.

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