OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued a burn ban effective immediately for much of the western half of the state because of extreme weather conditions and extraordinary fire danger.
The governor’s burn ban supersedes any county burn bans currently in place. It expires at midnight on Feb. 16. Additionally, four counties in eastern Oklahoma remain under county commissioner-issued bans.
The governor’s ban covers 40 counties: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Logan, Love, Major, McClain, Murray, Noble, Oklahoma, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Washita, Woods and Woodward.
County commissioner-issued burn bans remain in effect in Atoka, Coal, Pittsburg and Sequoyah counties. This list is frequently updated by county commissioners. For the most updated list visit http://www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-info.
“Critical fire weather and worsening drought have created an increased risk for devastating wildfires,” said Fallin. “A burn ban is now necessary to reduce the risk of preventable wildfires and to protect lives and property.”
Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) recommended the ban based upon an analysis of fire activity, wildland fuel conditions, and the predicted continued drought. Predicted windy conditions were an additional contributing factor to recommending the ban go into effect today.
The governor urged people to be extremely vigilant because conditions are ripe to spark a large fire.
“We are asking all Oklahomans to take extra caution to prevent wildfires,” Fallin said. “Citizen actions can certainly play an important role in minimizing fires and to keep our families and businesses safe from harm.”
“Oklahoma Forestry Services’ wildland fire crews and fire departments across the state have responded to an increasing number of fires over the past several weeks,” said George Geissler, OFS director. “We are expecting conditions to continue to deteriorate with only minimal chances for drought-breaking rainfall in the future.”
Unlawful activities under the ban include campfires, bonfires, and setting fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes, as well as igniting fireworks, burning trash or other materials outdoors.
LPG and natural gas grills, and charcoal-fired cooking outside in a grilling receptacle are permitted, provided the activity is conducted over a non-flammable surface and at least 5 feet from flammable vegetation. Any fire resulting from grilling or use of one of the cookers or stoves is still considered an illegal fire.
As part of the governor’s burn ban, there are exemptions for many items, such as welding and road construction. For more specific information and details, visit www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-info or call Michelle Finch-Walker with OFS at (580) 236-1021.