No Oklahoma Counties Under Burn Ban

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POTEAU (KFSM)  —  No counties in Oklahoma are under a burn ban, even though on Thursday (Jan. 18) the Oklahoma Forestry Commission reported more than 40,000 acres of burned land due to grass fires.

“Nope. We are not under a burn ban at this time,” said Leflore County Emergency manager Michael Davidson.

Thursday (Jan. 18) Davidson helped coordinate more than a dozen fire departments in an effort to battle a grass fire off of Greentop Road east of Poteau. The fire destroyed more than 700 acres and farm equipment.

No cause has been determined at this time.

County leaders in Oklahoma can issue warnings when conditions are dry, but they can’t stop outdoor burning entirely by issuing a burn ban. The ban comes from the state level.

In Arkansas, 22 counties are currently under a burn ban. Davidson said the two states have entirely different procedures in place when it comes to issuing a ban.

“In Arkansas the counties have a little bit more liberty at the county level and it’s more of a local decision,” he said.

Oklahoma managers said counties would be placed under a burn ban if the state was considered to be in a drought. Currently Oklahoma does not fit into that category due to the rainfall from December and January floods.

“We’ve been asking the state legislatures for the past two to three years to change the state law and we have not received a whole lot of cooperation,” he said. “We just continue to lobby to our legislators and plead our case that we need these things changed.”

He said until changes are made, emergency crews are warning people not to burn.

“Just use common sense. When the weather is like this and it’s dry and windy, just use common sense,” Davidson said. “Wait until a better time to burn outside. Wait until it has rained and it’s not windy.”