Monday, county commissioners voted to impose a 7-day burn ban effective in Rogers County.

Local fire fighters have reported battling a larger than normal number of grass fires recently, most started inadvertently by homeowners.

In June 2008, state lawmakers gave county commissioners the power to impose a 7-day burn ban when notified that “a majority of the chiefs, or their designees, of the municipal and certified rural fire departments located in the county that a period of extreme fire danger exists...” (Title 2 Article 16, Section 16-26 Oklahoma State Statutes)

Foyil Fire Chief Randy Atchley said a majority of fire fighters were reporting a dangerously high number of grass fires due to residents burning trash or disposing of hot ashes.

OSU County Extension Educator Vernon Scogin said as of last week 35 counties had issued a burn ban according to information on the Oklahoma Agweather web site. The free online site tracks Oklahoma’s changing weather using the Oklahoma Mesonet to deliver the latest weather data.

Data is collected and updated every five minutes. There are 120 Oklahoma Mesonet towers statewide. The programs are jointly managed by Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. The network’s capabilities are said to exceed any in the nation.

Scogin said the Extension Office has no position of whether commissioners should or should not issue a burn ban but the office is making the information available.

Radar mapping on the site recently showed a high burn risk for the state. Though current precipitation in the air shows up as safe for burning on the radar, Atchley said extremely dry grass means the county is still at risk. With temperatures below freezing, precipitation may not decrease the fire risk at this time. High wind conditions can also contribute to fire danger, said Atchley.

The District Attorney Gene Haynes said his office will draft a resolution issuing a burn ban similar to those being issued in other counties. Commissioners expect to sign the resolution today.

Rogers County Emergency Management Director Bob Anderson reminds residents to check with local fire departments before burning and to make sure fireplace coals and ashes are not warm if dumping them near dry grass or other potential fuel for a fire.

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