Oklahoma City, OK – Citing high winds, dry conditions and a series of recent wildfires, Gov. Brad Henry today declared a statewide burn ban for Oklahoma.
The governor’s office announced the decision Tuesday afternoon after reviewing weather data and discussing fire conditions with forestry officials in the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture. “We need to do everything we can to protect lives and property,” said Gov. Henry. “With the dry weather and high winds, conditions are very hazardous and even the smallest fire can quickly get out of control. “I’m urging all Oklahomans to exercise caution and use common sense. A burn ban won’t prevent every fire, but it will help lessen the danger.”
In recent days, a variety of factors have increased fire danger across the state. High winds and low humidity have created optimum conditions for wildfires, and the record rains of 2007 helped produce an abundance of vegetation that is now serving as fuel for fires. Fallen tree limbs from last month’s ice storm are also contributing to the danger in addition to hindering firefighting efforts.
“I would prefer to err on the side of caution and issue the ban before conditions deteriorate any further. It may cause a small inconvenience for some Oklahomans, but it will also help reduce the number of dangerous fires and possibly save lives in the process,” said the governor.
“With high winds and the large amount of dormant vegetation and tree limbs on the ground, our firefighters are already laboring in very dangerous conditions. The ban will provide them some much-needed assistance.”
Under the governor’s executive order, outdoor burning is banned, but there are some exemptions for low risk activities such as charcoal and gas grilling. Occupations such as welding can also be exempt provided tradesmen follow specific protections outlined by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.
Violations of the ban are misdemeanors punishable by as much as a $500 fine and one-year imprisonment.