Extreme Potential for Wildland Fires

Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), a division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry wants the public to be aware of the increasing potential for extreme wildland fires to occur across much of the state.

“Conditions are deteriorating, said Oklahoma State Forester, George Geissler.” “Fire behavior is nearing the point where firefighters’ initial attack will be unsuccessful and long duration wildfires can happen.”

Although the occurrence of wildfires to date has been lower, exceptionally dry fuels, heat advisories, increasing winds and no expectation for substantial rainfall is resulting in increased fire danger situations similar to that of last year.

A wildfire can be sparked by the most common of activities like mowing your lawn or harvesting a crop. Early spring rains have resulted in a rapid green-up of lawns, pastures and hay meadows. At the time this lowered the fire potential and was a welcomed sight for Oklahoma’s homeowners and hay producers. However, with the persistent drought, these same areas now contain dry fuels that are highly flammable.

“Caution should be taken with any outdoor activities,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, Jim Reese.” “Under these conditions, sparks can ignite easily and fires will spread quickly. I ask all agriculture producers to be cautious as equipment such as hay balers can spark and accidentally ignite a wildfire.”

OFS is coordinating state and federal wildland fire resources, and its Task Forces and firefighting personnel for response when mobilization is necessary, to assist fire department across the state with current wildland fire activity.

Burn bans are in place for several counties and many of those have specific restrictions. Visit OFS website www.forestry.ok.gov for a complete list of county burn bans and links to each county’s resolution.