Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 28, 2014

Dry, but not enough for a burn ban

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — It’s dry out there but not enough for Garvin County as a whole to meet the criteria needed for an official outdoor burn ban.

Much like last week a ban could not be called by county commissioners because one part of the criteria for a burn ban was not met.

For the second straight week the county fell short of the level of drought needed for an enforceable ban to be established.

”We still lack the same one we did last week – we’re in the moderate level and not in the severe drought category,” said Bud Ramming, emergency management director for Garvin County.

According to Ramming, the county did meet the other criteria for a ban, including the fact less than a half inch of rainfall, if any at all, was recorded.

Plus there were a number of grassfires reported in the county, including a handful on Friday that sent firefighters scrambling to a handful of blazes near Interstate 35 in the Pauls Valley and Paoli areas.

Last week the number of Oklahoma counties with a ban in place was 11.

That number jumped to 20 by Monday as Garvin County is starting to get partially surrounded by some of those counties with a ban.

They include Stephens and Grady counties to the west, along with McClain County to the north.

The remainder are a few counties in the southwest, east, northeast and now northwest portions of the state.

With no ban in place here all residents in Garvin County are encouraged to be extra cautious if they choose to conduct a controlled burn of such items as trash or brush.

Ramming and others would prefer if they simply just avoided doing the burns altogether.

“If there’s a high fire danger, like there is now, my advice is not to burn,” he said.

“They can do it because we don’t have a ban right now. We’re just asking them not to do it.”

Anyone choosing to do a controlled burn are reminded if it gets out of control they are liable for any damages to other property.

They could also get billed by any fire departments responding to a call related to their controlled burn.

With no ban in place it looks as though firefighters from departments scattered across Garvin County will continue monitoring the conditions and hoping for some rainfall relief sometime soon.

Ramming stresses if the county does ever meet the criteria for a burn ban his first step will be to contact as many of the area fire chiefs that he can.

“Once we do meet it I will call all the fire chiefs and see what they think” he said.

A burn ban in Garvin County can then only be established by the county commissioners.