Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

December 4, 2012

Burn ban could be on horizon

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — Dry conditions and a few more grass fires breaking out in recent days now has some Garvin County officials looking at the possibility of bringing back a ban on outdoor burning.

Even though a burn ban hasn’t been in place here since early October one official stresses the conditions outside have only gotten dryer since then resulting in an overall increase in the fire dangers.

Bud Ramming, emergency management director for Garvin County, said the conditions will be monitored daily as a recommendation could come soon to have a ban put in place.

“We’re still in a severe to extreme drought,” Ramming said on Monday.

“With the way the wind is blowing and it’s drying out, we definitely have a fire hazard out there,” he said. “Some parts of the county are worse than others but most of it is in an extreme drought.

“There’s no burn ban right now, but we’re getting close to calling for another one.”

Garvin County has seen its share of recent burn bans with one stretching throughout most of the 2011 year followed by a ban called late this past July that included all 77 counties in Oklahoma. The ban here was finally lifted by the governor in the first week of October.

As of Monday there were no counties in Oklahoma with burn bans, but according to Ramming, officials in a few of them are also right now considering bringing it back.

Still, he warns dry conditions is not the only factor for an area to qualify for a burn ban.

“Even though we might want it we might not qualify next week,” Ramming said.

“We have to have more fires than average to qualify for a ban, even with the dry conditions.”

Last week there were a number of grass fires in the region, while on Monday the dry conditions combined with gusty winds to increase the fire danger.

If all those factors continue a recommendation for a burn ban in Garvin County could come as early as next week. That recommendation would come only if a majority of fire chiefs in the county believe a ban is needed.

Right not it appears a majority think a ban is the right thing, according to Ramming.

“I have talked to the fire chiefs and they agree conditions are right for a burn ban,” he said.

Expectations are a discussion on the outdoor conditions could come next week during a regular county commissioners meeting.

“We don’t want to put a burn ban on because we have farmers who need to clear areas, but we ask for it when it comes to the safety of people.”

For now there’s no ban. Those choosing to conduct a controlled burn are encouraged to be extra cautious because of the dry and sometimes windy conditions out there.

“Be careful because the conditions right for a burn can get out of hand,” Ramming said. “If you do a ban stay with it. Don’t leave it alone. You’re still responsible for those burns.

“Remember, the conditions are still dangerous out there.”