Burn Permits Decrease As Fires Increase In Oklahoma Counties

Friday, February 21st 2014, 5:48 pm
By: News On 6

The high fire danger across the state is prompting some fire departments to stop issuing burn permits. In Broken Arrow, one fire got out of hand earlier this week.

Charred grass is the perfect example of just how quickly fires can get out of control. A Broken Arrow fire near 71st Street and Aspen was not started by someone with a burn permit, but many Green County fire departments said they want to err on the side of caution by not issuing burn permits.

It's an all too familiar scene for Green Country; raging fires ripping through land, demolishing homes and everything in its path.

Phil Reid with the Broken Arrow Fire Department, said, "As you can see from the fires we had this past week, they can get away from you quick and cause extensive damage."

Reid is referring to the recent Broken Arrow fire that investigators believe was started by a child playing with matches. The wind took control of the small blaze charring about 20 acres.

Several Oklahoma counties are now under burn bans. Broken Arrow falls in both Tulsa and Wagoner counties. Tulsa County is not under a burn ban, but Wagoner County is.

Sometimes counties get requests from people who want to clear their land with a controlled burn; that requires a burn permit, which Reid said they have not issued since the last snow storm.

"The wind picked up and was drying up the moisture and we're going outside and it's like the fire load is just incredible right now, so we haven't been issuing burn permits since that time," said Reid.

Firefighters in Bartlesville said conditions are too dangerous, so they are also not allowing people to burn.

"Anytime the wind is forecasted to be over 15 miles per hour, anytime during the day, we will not issue any burn permits," said Bill Hollander of the Bartlesville Fire Department.

Both departments said there are a number of steps that have to be completed before issuing a burn permit. You have to request a permit, listing the specific date and time you plan to burn. Then, fire officials will come to the location to make sure your burning area is safe.

"It's got to be so far back from any structures, got to have a water source available to it, winds under 15 miles per hour. It can't be anything that's not natural to the area. You can't just to burn trash and things like that," Hollander said.

Both Broken Arrow and Bartlesville Fire Departments said they will not issue burn permits until we get significant rain.