Despite the few inches of rain received in Rogers County over the past month, Gov. Brad Henry once again issued a burn ban in all 77 counties across the state.
Dry conditions along with soaring temperatures in the triple digits have contributed to another ban against burning.
“It’s just too hot and dry,” Rogers County Emergency Management Director Bob Anderson said. “There will be no tolerance. We will hand out fines and the sheriff’s office will back us up.”
Henry said law enforcement authorities will vigorously enforce the burn ban. Violations are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $500 and one year in jail. Charcoal and gas grilling are exempt from the ban.
Over the past few months since the ban was lifted, Anderson said only a few fires have flared up.
“That’s because people are paying attention,” he said. “They know it’s serious and they take precautions.”
More than 13,000 acres have burned in the last two weeks across the state. In Oklahoma County alone, firefighters have battled 32 wildfires over the last 12 days, according to the Associated Press.
Investigators also will pursue people who deliberately start fires, including smokers who carelessly discard lit cigarettes, the governor said. Smoking material was blamed for many of the wildfires that scorched the state earlier this year.
Most of the state has been under a burn ban for seven of the last 10 months due to drought conditions. That burn ban was completely lifted across the state in May.
Anderson advised those who wish to use charcoal to make sure there is a 10-foot by 10-foot perimeter around the grill to ensure dry shrubbery or other source of a potential fire hazard doesn’t ignite. In dumping the ashes from the charcoal, Anderson said wait a couple of days to make sure the fire is out.
Welding is permitted, according to Anderson, only if an additional person is available to watch for fires ignited by sparks. However, if wind speeds reach more than 20 mph, he said welding is not permitted.
Source: Associated Press