OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today extended and expanded a burn ban to include 52 counties because of extreme and extraordinary fire danger.
Conditions have continued to deteriorate since Fallin issued the first burn ban Jan. 30. The governor’s burn ban supersedes any county burn bans, and will remain in place until midnight March 2. Additionally, several counties in eastern Oklahoma remain under county commissioner-issued bans.
The governor’s ban covers 52 counties: Alfalfa, Beaver, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian, Carter, Cimarron, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Creek, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Jefferson, Kay, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Major, McClain, Murray, Noble, Okfuskee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Payne, Pontotoc, Pottawatomie, Roger Mills, Seminole, Stephens, Texas, Tillman, Tulsa, Washington, Washita, Woods and Woodward.
County commissioner-issued burn bans remain in effect for several counties. This list is frequently updated by county commissioners. For the most updated list, visit www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-info.
“Drought conditions continue to worsen across the state with no measurable rainfall occurring in the western third of Oklahoma for the past 130 days, and central Oklahoma is approaching 40 days without rain,” said Fallin. “An expanded burn ban is called for to reduce the risk of preventable wildfires and to protect lives and property.”
Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS) recommended the ban based upon an ongoing analysis of fire activity, wildland fuel conditions, and the predicted continued drought.
The governor reminds people to be extremely careful with any outdoor activities that might spark a blaze.
“Oklahomans have heeded warnings to take extra caution to prevent wildfires during the burn ban these last two weeks,” Fallin said. “This has had a direct effect on the number of new fire starts.”
“Oklahoma Forestry Services’ wildland fire crews and aircraft are prepositioned as conditions continue to deteriorate,” said George Geissler, OFS director. “Oklahoma National Guard and Oklahoma Highway Patrol aircraft continue to support wildfire activities as necessary. We’ve also opened an air tanker base in Ardmore, and have additional helicopters staged in Weatherford and Shawnee in anticipation of initial attack needs across the state.”
Unlawful activities under the ban include campfires, bonfires, and setting fire to any forest, grass, woods, wildlands or marshes, as well as igniting fireworks, burning trash or other materials outdoors.
LPG and natural gas grills and charcoal-fired cooking outside in a grilling receptacle are permitted, provided the activity is conducted over a non-flammable surface and at least 5 feet from flammable vegetation, but any fire resulting from grilling or use of one of the cookers or stoves is still considered an illegal fire.
As part of the governor’s burn ban, there are exemptions for many items, such as welding and road construction. For more specific information and details, visit www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-info or call Michelle Finch-Walker with the Oklahoma Forestry Services at (580) 236-1021.
About Oklahoma Forestry Services
Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, is committed to conserving, enhancing and protecting Oklahoma’s 12.5 million acres of forests and woodlands. Since 1925, OFS has worked with individuals and communities throughout the state to create resilient landscapes, fire-adaptive communities and provide wildfire response. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the division also has regional offices in Broken Bow, Goldsby, Wilburton and Tahlequah. For more information, visit www.forestry.ok.gov.