If you were planning on doing some outdoor burning this weekend you better make sure it’s legal to do so.
On Friday, Gov. Mary Fallin announced that a ban on outdoor burning for all 77 Oklahoma counties is effective immediately.
Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, recommended the ban based upon an analysis of fire activity, wild land fuel conditions and the predicted continued drought, according to a news release issued by the governor’s office.
The governor’s statewide burn ban supersedes all county burn bans currently in place and remains in place until conditions improve and it is removed by the governor.
“Extreme heat and ongoing drought have created conditions very conducive to wildfires,” Fallin said via a news release. “A statewide burn ban is now necessary to reduce the risk of preventable wildfires and to protect lives and property.”
Fallin said moving forward officials want the public to be extremely vigilant. Lit cigarettes, flat tires and cars parked in dry grass can quickly become dangerous.
“Everyone must do their part to help prevent fires and to keep our families and businesses safe from harm,” Fallin said.
State Forester George Geissler said reports of fire activity across the state are increasing and Oklahomans should report any fire they see immediately.
“Any fire that starts has the potential to burn very intensely and be difficult to extinguish,” Geissler said. “It is critical that anyone who sees a fire report it to the nearest fire department as soon as possible.”
Unlawful activities under the ban include campfires, bonfires, fireworks and setting fire to debris or trash, grass, woods or other materials outdoors. The ban allows for gas and charcoal grilling provided that it is over a nonflammable surface and at least five feet from flammable vegetation and there are exemptions for a number of items such as welding and road construction.
At 11:53 a.m. Friday, the temperature at the Edmond reporting station was 103 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Edmond’s highs on Wednesday and Thursday were 111. The high Tuesday was 108.
Overnight temperatures struggling to drop below 80 degrees triggered excessive heat warnings from central Missouri to north central Texas.
The heat has resulted in a red flag warning, a heat advisory, an air quality alert and a fire weather watch for the area. Edmond’s forecast calls for a high near 110 Saturday, 100 Sunday, 99 Monday, 101 Tuesday, 102 Wednesday and 101 Thursday.
A red flag warning was in effect for the area until 10 p.m. Friday due to temperatures of 105-113, low humidity — 10-15 percent — and breezy southwest winds.
A fire weather watch remains in effect for the area on Saturday for low humidity and increased southerly winds. Fires that develop will likely spread rapidly due to the additional ingredient of dry vegetation, officials said.
Residents were encouraged to report smoke or fire to their local fire department.
The air quality alert due to an elevated level of ozone was in effect for Friday.
Most of Oklahoma is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor update released Thursday. The rest of the state is experiencing severe drought. The agency uses a scale that goes from abnormally dry to moderate to severe to extreme to exceptional.
Oklahoma County, which has seen high temperatures in excess of 110 degrees this week, is experiencing extreme drought.
The National Weather Service’s forecast through Thursday did not include any chances of rain.
For a complete list of activities allowed and prohibited view the guidelines for the Governor’s Burn Ban on www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-information or call Oklahoma Forestry Services at 580-236-1021.
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