Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 11, 2012

No burn ban even with the dry

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — It’s certainly dry out there, but strangely those drought conditions still don’t allow many areas across the state like Garvin County to qualify for a burn ban, at least right now.

Officials who were considering the possibility of a ban here can’t make it happen because the lower number of wild fires over the past week don’t allow the county to qualify.

Garvin County’s emergency management director, Bud Ramming, said Monday the county met all the criteria for a burn ban except one.

That one area is the average number of fires for this same period going back a few years.

“I was going to recommend a burn ban if we qualified,” Ramming said. “The conditions are good for a burn ban, but we don’t qualify because we haven’t met the average number of fires.

“We’re too low on the numbers as far the burn ban goes.”

Among the four portions of the law defining an “extreme fire danger,” the one referred to by Ramming states the “fire occurrence is significantly greater than normal for the season and/or initial attack on a significant number of wildland fires has been unsuccessful due to extreme fire behavior.”

It’s this portion that appears to be preventing many counties in Oklahoma from asking their county commissioners to call for a burn ban.

“I’ve talked to a lot emergency managers around the state, and many of them are in the same position as us,” Ramming said. “There might be a need for a burn ban but they don’t qualify.

“This is one part of the law that emergency managers are trying to get changed,” he said.

A check with the Oklahoma Forestry Services shows none of the 77 counties in the state currently have a ban in place.

Even though this area doesn’t quality Ramming said many fire officials in Garvin County would like to see a burn ban at some point.

“The fire chiefs I’ve talked to are in favor of a burn ban,” he said. “The vegetation is dry and there’s a lot of it.”

With no ban in place right now anyone choosing to conduct a controlled burn is encouraged to be very cautious.

“If people do burn we ask them to just use common sense. If you do burn stay with the fire, and don’t burn when there are windy conditions out there.”

Garvin County has seen its share of recent burn bans with one stretching throughout most of the 2011 year followed by a ban called for late this past July that included every county in Oklahoma. The ban here was finally lifted by the governor in the first week of October.