Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

March 13, 2014

Fire danger at ‘red flag’ level

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — The winter ice now gone has been replaced with all the conditions that raise the red flags for a serious threat of fire across Garvin County.

In fact, much of Oklahoma is now facing a high level of fire danger, complete with a “Red Flag” warning.

With that in mind both Garvin County and state officials are urging residents here to avoid any controlled burns if at all possible.

“We don’t have a burn ban because we still don’t qualify for one right now,” said Bud Ramming, the county’s emergency management director.

“But I would still ask the public to avoid burning.”

The controlled burns referred to by Ramming would include area residents burning trash, tree limbs or brush.

One such example came Monday when a number of area fire departments responded to the call of a grass fire west of Antioch, which is just west of Pauls Valley.

The cause of that fire — a landowner was burning brush as the blaze quickly got out of control.

The reason for the higher fire danger is due to the warmer temperatures, gusty winds and lower relative humidity that followed a thunderstorm with sleet and ice nearly two weeks ago.

Once the ice began melting conditions moved in to make the fire danger a real concern for fire departments throughout the area.

Currently there are six counties in the state with a burn ban in place, although none are around Garvin County.

Still, officials are urging caution when it comes to any activity that could potentially spark up a fire.

“We are asking Oklahomans to pay close attention to the fire weather forecast over the next few days,” said state forester George Geissler.

“For the safety of our citizens and our state’s firefighters, we are advising people to avoid outdoor burning until conditions improve.”

Oklahoma Forestry Services monitors immediate weather conditions, as well as, long-term weather forecasts, the condition of wildland fuels, current fire behavior and fire occurrences on a daily basis.

All of these factors are taken into consideration when making recommendations to the public about fire danger.

For now forecasts have those fire danger conditions remaining at high levels at least until the weekend.

Residents should remember anyone conducting a controlled burn that gets out of control can be held liable for any damages to other property.

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