Fire conditions worsen, state forrestry officials say

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

OKLAHOMA CITY – Officials with Oklahoma Forestry Services are asking residents to use caution as record high temperatures and lack of rain are creating the potential for increased wildfire danger across the state. While the entire state is drying out, southern Oklahoma is already seeing increased fire activity.

“We experienced a big increase in fires in southeastern Oklahoma over the weekend with 19 fires burning 743 acres compared to 23 fires in the entire month of June,” said Aranda Chamberlain, who in her role as forestry fire control officer, dispatches fire information to firefighters from Oklahoma Forestry Services’ Broken Bow office. “We really want to encourage everyone to be aware of how dry it is and to be smart with anything that can cause a spark.”

The public can have a huge impact on preventing wildfires by delaying any burning until conditions improve, avoid dragging chains on vehicles, making sure that campfires are completely out, using extra care when grilling outdoors and using caution with anything that can cause fire. Additionally, citizens are asked to report any new fires or suspicious smoke to the closest fire department.

“We know that our increased ability to predict fire weather, combined with Oklahomans heeding the warnings, has a positive impact on preventing wildfires,” said Oklahoma Forestry Services Director and State Forester Mark Goeller. “So we ask everyone to please use caution and help us spread the word to others.”

As the state’s lead agency for wild land fire prevention, Oklahoma Forestry Services monitors fire weather conditions every day, including frequent discussions with National Weather Services and assessing drought, soil conditions and fuel conditions.

Additionally, fire officials post a Daily Fire Situation report on the OFS website at www.forestry.ok.gov/wildfire-information as fire weather conditions warrant. Burn ban information can be found at http://www.forestry.ok.gov/burn-ban-info.