The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 11, 2013

As state warns of fire danger, no word on a local burn ban

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — As Oklahoma descends into a hot, dry and windy summer, state fire officials are warning of the wildfire danger.

In Garfield County, though, there hasn’t been much of a need for a local ban, according to officials.

Garfield County Commissioner Marc Bolz said Thursday the county hasn’t discussed implementing a burn ban yet this year. Even though farmers are doing agricultural burns to turn over their fields, he’s only heard of one getting out of control.

Calling for a county-level burn ban is not an arbitrary move.

There are certain requirements that necessitate the decision, including high drought, low rainfall totals and higher-than-normal incidents of emergency wildfires caused by escaped debris from controlled burns.

So far, Bolz hasn’t heard talk of this issue from any of the fire chiefs in the county.

The governor can force a burn ban, and did so last year.

Bolz said the Garfield County Commission had scheduled a meeting to call for a ban in 2012, but was pre-empted by Gov. Mary Fallin's order.

Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture issued a press release Thursday stating current data shows the fire danger is expanding.

“Fuels such as grasses, downed tree limbs and debris from the recent tornadoes are definitely drying out. We are starting to see wildfire activity increase,” said George Geissler, Oklahoma State forester. “We are just reminding Oklahomans to be careful with outdoor activities that could spark a fire.”

Cotton County along the Red River recently called for a burn ban. It’s the first one of 2013.