State lawmaker wants special session to deal with wildfires

Wednesday, December 28th 2005, 2:21 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Sen. Jeff Rabon on Wednesday repeated his call for a special session to aid rural fire departments that have exhausted their resources by battling fires in drought conditions in recent weeks.

Fires whipped by 40 mph winds hit 17 counties Tuesday after raking large areas of eastern and southern Oklahoma a few weeks ago.

``Senate Democrats recently called for a supplemental appropriation to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture to help rural fire departments pay the costs of fighting the rash of wildfires that swept across the state in recent weeks,'' said Rabon, D-Hugo.

``We need to do more and we should do it now before the situation becomes even more desperate for our rural fire departments that help protect the quality of life in rural Oklahoma,'' he said.

Rabon said lawmakers should act immediately and not wait until the regular legislative session that begins Feb. 6. He also said Gov. Brad Henry should consider using the National Guard to protect the property of rural Oklahomans.

Rabon said mostly volunteer rural fire departments acted heroically in responding to recent fires and should not have to resort to ``pie suppers and bake sales'' for funding.

``We should act quickly to make these fire departments whole,'' he said.