Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 1, 2012

Extreme danger of wildland fires


Oklahoma Forestry Service

Oklahoma Dept. of Agriculture — Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry wants the public to be aware of the increasing potential for extreme wildland fires to occur across much of the state.

“Conditions are deteriorating,” said Oklahoma State Forester George Geissler.

“Fire behavior is nearing the point where firefighters’ initial attack will be unsuccessful and long duration wildfires can happen.”

Although the occurrence of wildfires to date has been lower, exceptionally dry fuels, heat advisories, increasing winds and no expectation for substantial rainfall results in increased fire danger situations similar to that of last year.

A wildfire can be sparked by common activities like lawn mowing or harvesting a crop.

Early spring rains resulted in a rapid greening of lawns, pastures and hay meadows. At the time, this lowered the fire potential and was a welcome sight for Oklahoma homeowners and hay producers.

However, with persistent drought these same areas now contain dry fuels that are highly flammable.

“Caution should be taken with any outdoor activities,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese.

“Under these conditions, sparks can ignite easily and fires will spread quickly. I ask all agriculture producers to be cautious with equipment such as hay balers that can spark and accidentally ignite a wildfire.”

OFS is coordinating state and federal wildland fire resources and its own task forces and firefighting personnel for response when mobilization is necessary to assist fire department across the state with current wildland fire activity.

Burn bans are in place for several counties and many of those have specific restrictions. Visit the OFS website www.forestry.ok.gov for a complete list of county burn bans and links to each county’s resolution.