The Edmond Sun

February 20, 2014

Official: Cause of Tuesday wildfire undetermined

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
The Edmond Sun

OKLA. CITY — A fire official said the cause of Tuesday’s wildfire that charred parts of a grassy field and damaged a handful of backyard fences is not known.

That offers little solace to residents in the Skyler Court addition, located near the Northwest 192nd Street-Skyler Court intersection, whose homes were threatened by the fast-moving flames. At one point, Oklahoma City Fire Department personnel were going door to door, telling residents they needed to evacuate.

Classified as suspicious and undetermined, the fire began Tuesday afternoon near the intersection in an area of north Oklahoma City that falls within the Edmond Public Schools district boundaries, said Oklahoma City Fire Battalion Chief Brian Stanaland.

Stanaland said in an incident such as this, it would not be surprising if the cause of the fire remains undetermined.

If the fire was due to arson, if someone tossed a cigarette butt out of their vehicle, igniting the fire, the offender could be liable for damages, Stanaland said. Five backyard fences suffered various degrees of charring, causing $3,450 worth of damage, Stanaland said.

Stanaland urged citizens with information about the incident to call the Oklahoma City Fire Department’s Fire Marshal Office at 297-3584. If citizens see smoke they should call 911.

Under Oklahoma arson law, amended Nov. 1, 2013, first-degree arson, a felony charge, involves willfully and maliciously setting fire and destroying in whole or in part any structure occupied by one or more persons. Penalties include up to 35 years in prison, up to a $25,000 fine or both.

Second-degree arson regards setting fire to an unoccupied structure, an offense which can result in up to a 25-year prison sentence, up to a $20,000 fine or both.

Third-degree arson concerns burning of personal or farm property and carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine or both.

Fourth-degree arson concerns burning specific types of property and carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, up to a $5,000 fine or both.  



FIRES POP UP THURSDAY

On Jan. 30, the Edmond Fire Department removed burn restrictions for the city and reinstated all burning permits. City officials are monitoring weather conditions.

All open burning sites in Edmond must have an approved burn permit. Permission to burn is obtained by calling a pre-recorded message seven days a week at 216-7999. For more information about permitted burning in the city, visit edmondok.com or call the Edmond Fire Department at 216-7303.

On Thursday, officials posted a no burning today bulletin on the EFD’s official Facebook page.

Oklahoma City, which has burning restrictions in place, firefighters responded to three grass fires in the space of a half hour’s time Thursday morning, Stanaland said.

Canadian County is under a county-level burn ban; Oklahoma County and Logan County are not.

Due to 25-35 mph northwest winds gusting to 40-50 mph, Oklahoma County was under a wind advisory until 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service. The wildfire danger was very high, prompting a request to delay and all outdoor burning and other activities that could start fires.

Dry conditions will continue for some time. No rain is in the Edmond forecast through Wednesday.

Winds will be fairly brisk in the area, increasing to 17-22 mph with gusts up to 31 mph Friday afternoon. Winds will be 6-11 mph Saturday. Highs will fall from near 66 on Saturday to near 49 on Sunday.



marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108