The Edmond Sun

January 22, 2014

City burn ban suspends 500-plus permits

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A burn ban in Edmond has suspended more than 500 city-issued permits until further notice, a fire official said.

Recent fires, continuing dry weather and abundant dormant vegetation contributed to decisions made by officials in Guthrie, Edmond and Oklahoma City to ban outdoor burning by permit until further notice. A growing number of counties are issuing county-level bans; Oklahoma County had not taken such action yet.

Edmond Fire Prevention Chief Mike Barnes said due to the current conditions, the city has banned all outdoor burning until fire danger conditions improve in the area. The only exception is outdoor cooking on gas grills, charcoal grills or smokers with a hooded cooking area and no open or exposed flames.

Before the ban, Edmond had issued 518 free 6-month residential burning permits and three commercial permits for land clearing on acreages, Barnes said. Individuals calling a 7-day-a-week burn permission line hear a recorded message related to the ban, Barnes said.

Any fire started could easily get out of control, Barnes said. Open burning without a permit during the ban may result in a fine up to $249. A judge could increase the amount if other property is burned, Barnes said.  

Barnes urged residents cooking outdoors or using outdoor fireplaces or other devices to be extremely careful. Fireplace ashes or charcoal should be put in a steel bucket, completely doused with water, stirred and left for 24 hours before discarding.

All outdoor welding is discouraged, but if work must be performed, the city offers guidelines including:

• All grinding and cutting is prohibited without a welder ground blanket and welder screening;

• No welding in grass taller than 4 inches;

• A welding blanket under all welding operations;

• An on-site water source such as a garden hose, water extinguisher or metered water line from a fire hydrant. If possible, the area should be watered before welding begins;

• An extra person to keep an eye out in case a fire is started; and

• All welding, grinding and cutting is prohibited if winds are greater than 10 mph.

The National Weather Service forecast for Edmond contained no precipitation chances into Tuesday and included periods of elevated winds — another cause for concern — Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday.

Additionally, Oklahoma, Logan and Canadian counties are among those within an abnormally dry area, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. More intense drought conditions exist in the western third of the state.

Barnes said officials will continue to monitor weather conditions moving forward.

For more information, call the Edmond Fire Department at 216-7303 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 216-7308 on weekends and after hours. | 341-2121, ext. 108