Firefighters Track Wild Fire Conditions

Thursday, February 5th 2009, 5:55 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Scott Thompson, The News On 6

SAND SPRINGS, OK -- Firefighters are on the lookout for wild fires.  The next few days will bring prime conditions for grass fires.  Fire crews do have a method for keeping track of potentially dangerous conditions.          

Firefighters are calling the end of this week the perfect storm for wild fires.  Some can tell by years of experience, others are logging online for help to fight fires of the future.

02/05/2009  Related Story:  Warm And Windy Increases Fire Danger

"You got low humidity.  You got wind blowing and the sun is shining.  That all tells you right there that anything can happen in a matter of minutes," said Charley Pearson with the Rock Fire Department.

Charley Pearson has been with Rock Fire Department in rural Osage County for three decades.  He knows when it's prime conditions for a grass fire.

"Anytime you can see the dust blowing and stuff like that, the conditions are just right for a major outbreak," said Charley Pearson with the Rock Fire Department.

While Pearson relies on his experience, another tool on the information superhighway lets firefighters know if a change in the weather could lead to fires.  It's called OK-Fire, based out of Oklahoma State University.

"I think it's a great system in that it's a one stop shop for fire weather," said Tulsa Fire Captain Michael Baker.

OK-Fire determines a burn index, warning firefighters when the temperature and dry conditions mix to form a dangerous combination.  It also tracks the wind, not only from the current day but also as many as four days ahead of time. 

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Captain Michael Baker says the Tulsa Fire Department is often online looking for the latest information.   

"If you are in active firefighting mode with a wild land fire or grass fire you can look and say, 'I know a weather change is coming, when is that going to happen? When is the wind going to shift?'" said Tulsa Fire Captain Michael Baker.

Charley Pearson says the warning signs are clearly there and hopes people in Green Country take note.

"People, if they just use a little bit of common sense right now through this time, we'll all get through this deal and we'll all be alright. But, we're just asking people to be very careful," said Charley Pearson with the Rock Fire Department.

Firefighters say one single match can start a blaze that will burn for several days.