A ban on all outdoor burning has been hanging over all of Garvin County for several weeks for one simple reason — the extremely dry conditions out there.

Pauls Valley’s fire chief and firefighters all over not only support a burn ban but are on high alert these days on the possibility an accidental fire not only gets started but burns for a long time over a large area.

Now entering its fourth month, the ban was asked for and continues to receive input from members of the Garvin County Fire Chiefs Association.

PV Fire Chief Joe Eddy said he and other chiefs around the county are consulted weekly before a recommendation goes to all three county commissioners for an extension of the ban.

“They call us every week and take a straw poll on what we think about the ban,” Eddy said, referring to an official in the commissioners’ office in the county courthouse.

“We get a call first thing Monday morning before (commissioners) go into their meeting,” he said.

“We’re all on the same page. The ban should stay in place for now.”

What the ban means is all outdoor burning, such as the disposal of trash commonly seen somewhere in the county during less dry conditions, is completely prohibited right now.

Allowed but only under strict limitations are outdoor grilling and welding.

According to Eddy, the ban is needed because the conditions have created a daily fire hazard all over the county as firefighters remain on high alert.

The hazard comes from a combination of low humidity, high winds and the ever increasing warmer temperatures of the approaching spring season.

These conditions can turn something like a lit cigarette thrown by the side of a road into a major threat for an out-of-control grass fire, he said.

“It’s easy for a cigarette to start a fire under these conditions. Under normal conditions it might not.”

Eddy said an example of those conditions is a 20-20 thing — low humidity in the range of 20 percent and winds close to 20 mph.

Even with some steady grass fire calls in recent days, Eddy said it could up to this point be worse for area firefighters.

“Once you get a fire going it can be tough to stop. We’re been very fortunate because most fires have burned into green fields or we can get to it quickly,” he said.

Most of the recent grass fires have brought together several area fire departments, including a large one south of Garvin County and another on Tuesday west of Pauls Valley.

No structures were lost in this recent fire, but a large area of property was scorched.

An answer to alleviating the situation is fairly simple — rain is needed.

After an average year for rainfall in 2008, the amount so far this year only comes to just over 2 inches, Eddy said.

“In the past 30 days we’ve recorded three-quarters of an inch of rain and nothing in the last two weeks,” he said.

“It’s going to take a considerable amount of moisture to get us out of this thing.”

As for a neighbor to the north, McClain County was earlier this week placed back under a burn ban.

Still, nearly three-quarters of the counties in Oklahoma currently have a burn ban declaration by their commissioners.

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