Area Firefighters Stress Importance Of Burn Ban

Friday, March 6th 2009, 6:22 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6

BRISTOW, OK -- Bristow firefighters have been battling a blaze since Monday night.

They thought they had it out, but it started up again and is continuing to burn right up to the Turner Turnpike near mile marker 201.

The Bristow firefighters say the cause of this fire is under investigation and it may have been accidental.

But with warm temperatures and dry conditions they can't stress enough that burn bans should be obeyed.

"Right now we are under a complete fire ban," said Lt. Mike Eslick with the Bristow Fire Department. "There is no burning outside whatsoever."

There can be exceptions, but they are rare. For example, farmers or ranchers burn land for agricultural conditions, and the grass that eventually grows back is better for grazing.

But no burning means no burning.

"Burning is unacceptable at this time," Eslick said. "Any burning, like I said, you face a tough punishment, and it's not worth it."

Fifty-five counties in Oklahoma are under the burn ban. County commissioners follow a checklist when placing a burn ban within their county.

These guidelines say extreme fire conditions may exist with drought conditions -- less than one-half inch of rain is forecasted and there are more fires than normal

Twenty percent of fires start from debris that escapes controlled burns. Commissioners have the support of local fire departments, and exceptions to the burn ban are extreme conditions that require permission.

Those who break the law and start a burn despite the ban face punishment of a $1,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

"Please do not burn," Eslick said. "It's too dangerous, winds are too high and the elements are too high to burn at this time."

Read the burn ban guidelines.

View current ban information.