Rogers County Commissioners issued a burn ban during an emergency meeting Wednesday.
The burn ban will stay in effect until Oct. 3.
“Anything that requires a flame – outside of employment – will not be allowed,” Rogers County Emergency Management Deputy Director Steve Massey said during the meeting. “So, no burning of brush, burning of ditches, no weenie roast, no bonfires.”
The ban does not apply to gas or electric over nonflammable surfaces or industrial welding.
Welding, grinding and gas torch work may only occur with a dedicated fire-watch person and a safe way to extinguish a fire, according to a Rogers County press release.
The consequences of burning during a burn ban is a fine up to $500.
In order to place a burn ban, the county must meet criteria including no more than one-half inch of rain in the forecast in the next three days; the majority of Rogers County chiefs report their departments are experiencing above normal call volume levels; and the majority of Rogers County Fire chiefs support the immediate burn ban.
Chelsea Fire Chief Craig Sampson said their call volume is up 40 percent from last year. He said they’ve had more grass fires since July than they did during the entire fire season last year.
“It has been busy since July and we've had some pretty substantial side fires,” he said.
Sampson said they’ve had a camper burn down, a barn burn down, and a multitude of grass fires.
“We’ve had a string of fires,” he said. “Foyil Fires had a bunch of them, too. … Up in this area it is dry.”
Sampson said there's been a trend of people burning and causes bigger fires.
“The burn ban will help because people won’t be out burning – like doing control burns or burning their yard or burning trash – that's what we're trying to focus on not happening,” he said. “It tries to lessen the chance of a fire started because the conditions right now are very bad.”
Sampson said Rogers County is in an extreme drought, and in areas north of Sequoyah, it’s so dry that ponds are drying up.
“I've heard of some ranchers having to haul water to their cattle and their livestock because their ponds are dried up,” he said. “We're just in a bad situation with the way the weather is.”