Forestry Service Explains Wednesday's Controlled Burn

Wednesday, April 9th 2014, 10:01 pm
By: News 9

The Oklahoma Forestry Service answers a question a lot of you are asking us at News 9. Why carry out a controlled burn on a day when a fire has the potential to quickly get out of control?

The whole purpose for the burn is to reduce the fuel load for wildfires. The state forestry service says it's been doing prescribed or controlled burns around Lake Draper for at least the past three years.

"Forecasted conditions for today were perfect for the burn," said Oklahoma Forester, Mark Bays.

It was a fire that could be seen for miles across the metro.

"Wondering what's on fire? Whose house is on fire? That's kind of what it looks like," said neighbor Tammy Cameron.

Cameron lives a few miles away from Lake Stanley Draper and could see the plumes of dark smoke behind her home.

"I mean, look at how dry it is out here, and if it caught on fire, the house, I mean, mine would go up because it's wood, and then my barns, my horses," said Cameron.

"This just wasn't a bunch of people going out into the field and throwing matches out," said Bays.

4/9/2014 Related Story: Controlled Burn Causes Concern In SE Oklahoma City

Bays says so far everything has gone well.

"This is something that is orchestrated," said Bays. "They coordinate all activities today with the National Weather Center down in Norman."

But, dry air and high winds usually bring fire danger into the extreme category. Wednesday, most of the state was under a red flag fire warning.

"Early in the afternoon, we noticed there was a little change," said Bays.

The state forestry service was actually supposed to burn 270 acres today around the lake, instead only 156 were burned. Winds picked up and crews had to narrow their area of focus to keep the fire under control.

"The forecast is just that. It's a forecast," said Bays. "It's a prediction of what may happen."

"Any kind of wind, I don't think you should be starting a fire. I don't care how close you're watching it," said Cameron.

About 20 firefighters will remain around the controlled burn area throughout Wednesday night to make sure no fires pop up.